Gardnerville school looks at expansion |

Gardnerville school looks at expansion

by Andy Bourelle

Architects are finalizing a long-range facilities plan for Gardnerville Elementary School, and, although work will not be starting immediately, school officials are excited about the project.

“The fact that we have a plan – I think that’s major progress,” said GES Principal Dick Brownfield. “We’re all excited about it.”

Douglas County School District Director of Business Services Rick Kester and architects from Design Concepts West presented the plan to the school board at its monthly meeting last week, and board members supported the plan.

The plan, to cost about $2.5 million, allows for remodeling to be completed in phases, when money is available. Kester said work would begin as soon as possible and would take up to seven or eight years.

GES is the oldest school in the district, and the plan addresses several issues. With three structures, it is the only elementary school in the district to be made up of separate buildings. Other issues include an inadequate library and multipurpose room, poor drainage on the site, a lack of storage areas and inadequate teaching spaces.

In its 1997-98 budget, the school board allocated funds to have professional assistance in developing the comprehensive plan. Design Concepts West began meeting with the GES staff in October 1997. In January, the architects and GES administration met and reviewed four alternative plans, deciding on the best one.

Although the project is just starting, it has been a plan of the school district’s for years.

A 1992 bond issue gave the school district $29 million and resulted in the building of Minden Elementary School, Pinon Hills Elementary School, Pau-Wa-Lu Middle School and additions to Douglas High School and Carson Valley Middle School. Kester said those projects, adding 33 percent more space to schools in the district, consumed all the district’s time from 1992 to 1996.

When that work was completed, Kester said, the school district decided to turn its attention to the county’s oldest schools. Much of the initial work was for the Lake schools, including a new library scheduled to be added to George Whittell High School this summer and new classrooms for Zephyr Cove in 1999.

The plan for GES allows for the work to be completed in stages, each phase costing between $600,000 and $900,000.

“We fully know we don’t have the kind of money to do it all at once,” Kester said, “but the phases allow us to make at least some progress in modernizing the school.”

GES’s old Heritage Building was built in the 1920s, and the other buildings were added later as the student population grew. The plan, when completed, will connect the different buildings. The old Heritage Building will remain separate, but it will then be used for district administration purposes and will not have classrooms.

“This plan ties everything together,” Kester said. “It ends up with a very cohesive facility for the elementary school.”

GES currently is a single-track, year-round school with 624 students. When the plan is completed, Gardnerville’s facility will be appropriate for use as a year-round or traditional school.

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