New look for Gardnerville’s oldest school
Carson Valley Middle School literally opened its doors with a brand new look for the first day of classes Monday morning.
Douglas County School District trustees approved a $2.98 million renovation project in March for the school, which originally opened as the Valley’s high school in 1957 and converted to a middle school in 1975. Work on the project began in May and was mostly completed for the start of classes on Monday, Superintendent Teri White pointed out.
“We have a couple of classrooms and the gym that are still being renovated, but the kids got in on time and it’s beautiful,” she said on Wednesday. “It looks like a whole new school, which is great for the kids’ morale the teachers’ morale to take one of our oldest schools and improve that facility.
“We had a few holdups,” White added. “The art room is not quite ready and one of the special education classrooms is not quite ready, but overall, they did a really good job of trying to get it done in time for the kids.”
Douglas County Project Manager Scott McCullough noted that completion of work for the start of school involved a number of challenges over the course of the summer.
“It was a team effort,” McCullough said. “There were a lot of unknowns to deal with. When you get into an older school, you don’t always know what’s in the ground or in the building. You have the original (building) and then you have additions on top of additions.”
Security and safety at the school were the primary focus of the renovation project, starting with creating of a single point of entry at the front door.
“The single point of entry is in place, so they’ve got the doors with glass and people have to be buzzed in after the bell rings,” White said.
Another major change is parking in front of the school. The outdoor basketball courts were removed to create additional parking as well as a drop-off lane that allows parents to drop their children.
“We created a parent drop-off lane right in front of the school, so that allows traffic to keep moving; anyone who wants to go park doesn’t have to wait in that line now,” White said. “The traffic flow out there Monday was a little bit tough, but once people get used to the traffic pattern, I think it’s going to be much improved.”
Overall, White felt the first week of school in the Valley went well. Douglas County’s schools at Lake Tahoe — George Whittell High School and Zephyr Cove Elementary — open on Aug. 28. She added that enrollment figures for the coming year are expected to remain about the same.
One other change is a week’s delay for kindergarten classes, which officially began with on Friday with orientation. Students coming into kindergarten went through reading assessment testing Monday through Thursday, White explained.
“The ‘Read by Grade 3’ initiative that went through the Legislature three years ago requires those children to be assessed on their reading ability within 30 days of starting school,” White said, adding the new schedule enables individual testing to be done without interrupting class time.
Overall, White described the start of the Valley’s new school year as a success.
“Monday, I visited all of the Valley schools and greeted teachers and kids and walked into classrooms,” she said. “The energy is really positive, the teachers were welcoming kids and everybody had smiles on their faces. It was a really smooth start.”