Solving the student puzzle |

Solving the student puzzle

School officials are asking Carson Valley residents to share their ideas about how to deal with the student population after the freshman class moves back to Douglas High School in 2015.

When that day comes, both Carson Valley and Pau-Wa-Lu middle schools will have roughly a third fewer students.

Meanwhile the Valley elementary schools, with students from kindergarten to sixth-grade, tend to be full.

Geography complicates the issue even further. While quite a bit newer, Pau-Wa-Lu is also out of the way, and an unlikely candidate for the Valley’s only middle school.

Other plans like converting Jacks Valley Elementary School into a K-8 school or moving sixth-graders into the middle schools have also been floated.

It has been 20 years since the freshman class left Douglas High School under substantial population pressure. In 1994, Douglas County’s student population was growing at 4-6 percent a year. In 2013, the student population was 6,120 continuing a steady decline from its 2004-05 peak of 7,210.

A long-time goal for the school district has been to move the freshmen class back into the high school, but navigating the complexities to make that happen has generated another set of challenges.

We’ve already got one middle school at Lake Tahoe up for sale, and the district is trying to sell or lease the Gardnerville Elementary School heritage building.

There may come a time when the school district has to close another school due to a decline in enrollment. We feel that the best plan will preserve taxpayer’s investment in new schools while educating our students in the most effective and efficient way possible.