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Why does Douglas have 3 calendars?

by Maggie Allen

Douglas County School District (DCSD) currently has three different calendars that govern when students attend school. With the current drop in student enrollment, some changes are under way to move students into two calendar schedules and eventually into a system where all students in DCSD have the same school calendar. The following questions seem to be the ones asked most frequently.

– Why does DCSD have three different calendars?

The district experienced rapid student growth for many years and needed additional school sites in order to provide for their education. Douglas County School District tried and failed to pass several bond issues, so eventually multi-track year-round (MTYR) calendars were established at four valley elementary schools (Jacks Valley, Gardnerville, Meneley, and Scarselli). This was done to accommodate more students and to assure the community that the district was using all of its facilities to full capacity. When a bond issue was eventually passed, the money was used to build two partial elementary schools and one middle school and to make additions to the high school. When the partial elementary schools were completed, the student population was rezoned; and students were placed at Minden Elementary School, Pinon Hills Elementary School, and Jacks Valley Elementary School on a single-track year-round (STYR) calendar. The third schedule is the traditional calendar. All secondary schools and one elementary school at Lake Tahoe are on this traditional calendar since the student numbers never required the change to MTYR.

– What happened to warrant changing the existing calendars?

Due to a drop in student enrollment over the last three years, the DCSD board of trustees voted at their December 1999 meeting to begin taking the remaining three schools off MTYR calendars. The three elementary schools currently on MTYR are Gardnerville, Meneley, and Scarselli; and their projected student enrollments indicate that a MTYR calendar will no longer be necessary if current enrollment trends continue over the next few years.

– What is the schedule for taking these three elementary schools off the MTYR schedule?

Gardnerville Elementary will begin a STYR schedule in the 2000-2001 school year. Scarselli will follow in the 2001-2002 school year and Meneley will follow in the 2002-2003 school year.

– How is the STYR calendar set up?

After much discussion and debate among parents, teachers, and district office staff, the DCSD board of trustees was presented with a variety of calendars from which to choose during their Feb. 8, meeting. Connie Wennhold, a parent at Gardnerville Elementary School, designed the calendar ultimately chosen by the Board. Mrs. Wennhold’s calendar provides for five to six weeks vacation time in July and August. In addition, it provides for month-long breaks in December and April that coincide with traditional calendar breaks. It is a modified yellow-track calendar.

– How will the district move to a single calendar year for all students?

The goal of DCSD is to develop the best calendar for all students and for all students to be on one calendar. The district is also very interested in what parents believe would be the best calendar for their students. Before recommending a calendar to the board of trustees, the district will conduct survey of a sample of parents. Parents will be asked to identify their preference of school calendars and the results will be tallied. Research is being gathered to identify calendars that have a positive impact on student achievement and which are also successful in supporting a competency-based system. This research will be gathered and compiled starting in the 2000-2001 school year and a calendar committee will be formed. The job of this committee will be to study the research and results of the parent surveys and make recommendations to the DCSD board of trustees as to which calendar would be the most effective for all students in the district (K-12).

The first priority for any calendar is student learning and achievement. The second priority is to create an effective time frame for the most effective instruction. A great deal of thought, planning, and discussion around these two priorities will continue to occur as the new DCSD calendar is designed by the calendar committee.

– If you have questions, please call Maggie Allen, Communications Coordinator, 782-5134.

Correction

In January’s “Emphasis on Education” Record-Courier column, the total number of Valley elementary band students should have been listed as 75. In addition, district transportation is provided for before-school band programs only. An after-school band program is held at one elementary school. Parents of those band students must arrange their own transportation.