Enrollment up by only 20, school board hears | RecordCourier.com
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Enrollment up by only 20, school board hears

by Merrie Leininger

The Douglas County School District heard a report on the district enrollment at Tuesday night’s meeting in the Carson Valley Middle School library.

Rick Kester, director of business services, reported enrollment was up by only 20 students compared to last year at the Sept. 25 head count.

There are a total of 7,322 students in the district, including pre-kindergarten, special education and China Spring Youth Camp students which are not used in the enrollment projection models.

Kester had a tough act to follow: a student teacher from Japan who had been at Pinon Hills and Minden elementary schools addressed the board and, with the help of students from those schools, taught the board and audience members how to make origami turtles.

“It may not be exciting, but it is important; it drives our staff, facilities and produces almost all of our money,” Kester said.

Five less students at Jacks Valley Elementary and 60 fewer students at Scarselli Elementary, in addition to fewer students at the elementary and high schools at the Lake took great gouges out of the enrollment numbers.

The largest increase was 40 more students at Carson Valley Middle School. Last year there was no growth in enrollment in the district.

“The pattern is slower growth throughout Northern Nevada,” Kester said. “Elko is down 200 students for the first time in years.”

A major cause in the Carson Valley is the large number of retirees moving into the areas and the cost of housing in the area.

“Fewer people with young children are moving here,” he said. “I don’t see growth is going to stop in Douglas County. I think we will see more people moving here with affordable housing and as the economic picture grows. This is really a good thing because it gives us some breathing room.”

Kester said the current facilities will suffice longer because of the lack of growth.

Superintendent Pendery Clark said the class reduction requirements were met by hiring substitutes for 1st and 2nd grade classrooms at Pinon Hills, Minden and Gardernville elementary schools.

“We don’t anticipate we will need them them next year so it is difficult to hire full time teachers at this point,” she said.

John Soderman, assistant superintendent of personnel services, reported on the licensed and classified personnel changes.

In the 1997-98 school year, the district had 7 percent turnover in licensed personnel as a result of 32 teachers and administrators leaving the district.

He also discussed the diversity of the staff. Sixteen of the 450 teachers and administrators are minorities and, although the district does not have quotas, the administration is attempting to recruit more minorities.

“We need to look in different places now. We are far short of what our intention is,” he said.

n Spelling program. Cris Etchegoyhen, coordinator of curriculum, competencies and projects, reviewed the progress of the spelling pilot program put into place last year.

“We wanted to be sure we did a good job because the things we were doing in the past weren’t working,” she said.

Etchegoyhen said the program was created because, for several years, spelling scores were below the district’s standards.

Last year the pilot program was implemented in some classrooms and data revealed smaller groups of words instead of large spelling lists facilitates learning.

Etchegoyhen said dividing the class into small groups of spellers, in which students are given word groups specific to their learning level, also increases learning.

Teachers are required to put more responsibility on students for their spelling. They will be required to correctly spell the “high frequency” words on their spelling lists in everything they write.

In the 1st grade, students will be responsible for 30 words that make up over 33 percent of all adult communication.

By the 4th grade, students will be required to know 100 words and, at every level, grading will be based on 100 percent accuracy. One misspelled “high frequency” word results in a “C” on that assignment. Two errors and the student receives a “F.”

Next year students will be starting phase two of the spelling program in which they study editing, word groups and roots.

n Martin Slough. Rob Fellows of Berryman and Henigan, city engineers for Gardnerville requested the board’s approval for continuing with the Martin Slough water quality enhancement program.

The slough is a partially man-made waterway that is used for water collection and irrigation supply. Increased erosion and pollution created a necessity to realign the slough and use wetlands to allow the settling of materials in the water.

The program creates a wetland-like area for water treatment where the Carson River flows behind Carson Valley Middle School. The school district owns 18 acres behind the school and the project would take up about an acre of district land. Kester said the district has no plans to develop that land.

Long-term projects include walkways that people can use to view the area and wildlife, Fellows said.

The motion to approve, in concept for purposes of obtaining grant funds to realign the slough behind CVMS with final approval contingent upon design and additional considerations, was made by David Brady. It was seconded by Michele Lewis.

George Echan voted against the motion. Don Forrester was not present at the meeting.

“There are significant issues that need to be determined in advance,” Echan said.

In other agenda items:

n The board approved, for purposes of applying for grants, the School Trip Safety Program for Minden and Gardnerville elementary schools.

The program provides safe walkways for students walking to school. The only cost to the district, Fellows said, would be the walkways from the school property line up to the doorways. The county and the state would have to maintain lighting and sidewalks along county and state roads.

The motion passed unanimously.

n The board congratulated Kathleen Kenny, the Financial Assistance for Continued Training Committee Award scholarship winner.

Kenny was the first student to receive the award. She wants to become an elementary teacher and the board joked that she would have to come back to Douglas County to teach.

The board also recognized all the teachers with perfect attendance and the Record-Courier for the work on “Kids Scene,” which recently won a first place community service award in the Nevada Press Awards.

The Record-Courier E-mail: rc@tahoe.com

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