Nevada's smallest schools

When Nevada Appeal reporter Geoff Dornan proposed a trip through rural Nevada to visit several of the state's one- and two-room schools, we envisioned a nostalgic look at a simpler, long-gone era.

He found that, and a whole lot more.

In the stories that appeared Sunday and Monday, Dornan described top-achieving students, dedicated teachers, tightly knit communities and, by necessity, older children teaching younger children.

Talk about back to basics.

These are Nevada's tiniest schools, including one with only two students and a kindergartner. The largest he visited had 24 students and two teachers.

While it's tempting to look back misty-eyed on some "Little House on the Prairie" existence, the reality is that most Nevada communities come nowhere close to being able to provide this kind of attention to students.

The cost is high to operate these elementary schools. They exist because their communities are willing to support them, and busing the students would be not only expensive but traumatic for such young children.

But school administrators can encourage tutoring and mentoring programs, continue to attempt to reduce class sizes and get parents - and the whole community - involved in all that goes on within their schools.

One other lesson to be learned is that smaller schools, in general, are better. That may seem obvious in some respects, but in Carson City we continue to hear arguments for more efficient use of school buildings, for year-round school, for staggered schedules, for every conceivable way of cramming more children into existing buildings.

The Carson City School District has another year of reprieve, as student enrollment is up just 39 students. Redistricting this year also has given some elementary schools a chance to balance out their numbers and forge closer ties with their neighborhoods.

They won't ever be mistaken for one-room schoolhouses. But maybe they will help remove the impression from some taxpayers that Carson City schools should be seen as factories with production lines.

We're sure that residents in Denio or Independence Valley would never see their tiny schools that way.


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