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Gardnerville Elementary School adjusts to new schedule and principal

by Merrie Leininger, staff writer

The school year started out with a bang for Cissy Tucker, who was officially named Gardnerville Elementary School principal just days before the school started its 2000-01 year on Monday – the first year the school has been single track in seven years.

Although Tucker knew it would be a stressful situation to walk into, she said he felt she had to do it.

“The door just opened and I felt I should walk through. It seemed like such a wonderful opportunity. It was a new challenge for me to get to be a principal,” Tucker said, who has been vice-principal at Scarselli Elementary School for the past three years.

Although she was thrown into the situation, Tucker said she had already been thinking about single-track conversion because Scarselli will be doing it next year.

“I feel confident. I’ve been thinking about the logistics . We’ll be in good shape here, thanks to (former principal) Dick Brownfield. Dick’s a hard act to follow. He’s very knowledgeable and he’s been good helping me with the transition,” Tucker said.

She said she also has received daily calls of support from Superintendent Pendery Clark and Business Services Director Rick Kester arraigned to have extra maintenance help just before school opened.

“It’s amazing how much is done to a school in a six-week break. It was wonderful to have the time. The wear and tear on a multi-track school is difficult. Teachers are generally pleased. We really were ready for the first day of school,” she said.

Tucker said teachers have been very positive about the change and very flexible and helpful to her as a new principal.

Kindergarten teacher Phyllis Robison said she enjoyed her six weeks off this summer.

“I like the schedule. I used to be on yellow track, so just a day or two, or sometimes five off, so then it was harder because I had to have the room clean and ready for the next group. It’s nice to have the time off to regroup and reorganize,” Robison said. “I really like it. It’s nice to have everybody here together, nice to have everyone I teach with together.

Sixth grade teacher Meredith Swanson-Jessup said she is very happy to be off of multi-track.

“I love it. I think the majority of teachers appreciate it. For the first time, teachers are able to sit down and arrange class lists in a more balanced way. We are more of a community now because we are all in school at the same time. Some kids who have been together forever have been able to meet different students. We got two teacher work days, when before we would only have one and the majority of the maintenance was done,” she said. “I’ve noticed class sizes are larger, especially at the upper grades. I don’t know how we are going to deal with that.”

Gardnerville was the first to go off of multi-track because of years of declining enrollment. But this year, enrollment shot up.

Tucker said 641 students had registered by Tuesday, up from 598 on count day last year.

She said the school is coping with the increased number of students, even though there are two fewer secretaries and one fewer playground aide. Tucker said a 2nd-grade teacher was transferred from Pinon Hills Elementary School this week because the enrollment there is down. The school has 32 teachers in 24 classrooms, Tucker said. She said if enrollment were to stay between 615-640, the school should be able to handle that number without problems.