Boundary changes mean almost 200 students will change schools
Gardnerville Elementary School Principal Cissy Tucker says she has mixed feelings about a school board decision that will move 189 students to new schools.
“We hate to see any of our kids go. It’s not easy to say goodbye. As far as our facility, it’s been so crowded, so that’s been hard,” Tucker said.
The boundary changes will move 112 students who live in Topaz Ranch Estates, Holbrook and Double Springs from GES to Minden Elementary School and 77 students who live in the West Valley/Foothill area to Scarselli Elementary School.
“We’re working to ease the transition,” Tucker said. “The three schools are making some plans so we can have activities. The parents and kids will see what the next school is going to be like. The theme is going to be ‘Aloha’ because some kids are saying hello and some are saying goodbye, and ‘Aloha’ means both.”
Tucker said she is sending letters of explanation to parents soon and had a meeting with parents Friday to answer questions. Tucker, MES Principal Klaire Pirtle and school board trustee Michele Lewis are meeting with parents 6:30 p.m. March 7 at the TRE community building.
“I think everybody knew it needed to be done. We are in an area that will continue to keep growing,” Tucker said. “I cannot hold a whole school assembly. I cannot have a parent night and have everybody there at the same time. There are defiantly limitations to what we can do for our children.”
Tucker said the first phase of a remodeling project will begin at GES this summer. Five or six new rooms will be built, but the school will actually only gain one classroom because much administrative staff will be shifted. The professional development center, previously held in a portable behind the school, will be moved into rooms in the original GES building. In the second phase, a new kindergarten and media center will be built and then a multi-purpose room and office space. The project is expected to take three or four years.
n Hard decision. School board members didn’t come to the decision lightly about the district’s oldest school Tuesday night. Five motions were made and rejected before the motion that will move the most students passed by a vote of 4 to 2. Dave Brady changed his vote to help the measure pass. The dissenters were Jim Keegan and Keith Roman.
“Two hundred is too many to move. We would be moving one quarter of the student body of Minden and moving the students from TRE for the third time in five years or so,” Roman said.
He asked the board to consider an option that would move 60 GES students from Fish Springs and the Pine Nuts to MES.
Business Services Director Rick Kester, who recommended the move which eventually passed, said moving 60 students would not relieve the problem at GES and cause a problem at MES.
It would result in GES being just eight students short of its capacity, if no new students come into GES next fall, and bring MES up to 10 students short of capacity.
Keegan asked the board to take more time and ask for more suggestions from the district administration.
“We can’t take a wait-and-see attitude on this and end up with overcrowding at GES,” Kester said. “The issue is still about GES for me. My job is to look far enough into the future not to get surprised on the other side.”
Kester said if the decision was delayed, it would be difficult for the district to assign the correct number of teachers to each school for next year.
Kester said Scarselli’s enrollment has declined the most for the past two years and the West Valley students attend Pau-Wa-Lu Middle School, so moving them to Scarselli means they will go to middle school with their classmates.
n In other agenda items: The board agreed to hold a special meeting Feb. 26 at 7 p.m. at the Carson Valley Middle School library to organize parents to speak at the Legislature regarding school funding issues. Superintendent Pendery Clark said it was an important issue that couldn’t wait. The district will be briefing parents on issues and transporting them to the Legislature.
The board is also having special meetings March 7 at 3:30 p.m. at the CVMS library to interview and vote on a new school board member and March 6 at the CVMS library to present the changes to the strategic plan. Copies of the revised plan are available at every school.
n Admiration. Clark was surprised by the Douglas County Administrators Association. Past President Rita Elliot, who is principal at Carson Valley Middle School, read the letter to the audience.
“We admire your ability to stand firm in the commitment you have made. You have taken a lead in making sure the strategic plan is continually updated, so it is not a static document. You are responsive to the needs of the children. We know and admire your knowledge and dedication,” Elliot read before a gift basket was handed to Clark.
A teary-eyed Clark thanked the administrators and said she is honored to work with them.