CCSD moves forward with grade-level schools

Numa Elementary School Teacher Lisa Solinski instructs her fifth-grade classs during a school day.

Numa Elementary School Teacher Lisa Solinski instructs her fifth-grade classs during a school day.

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The Churchill County School District Board of Trustees voted at their Thursday night meeting to move forward with grade-level schools.

Although the trustees voted in favor of grade-level schooling, most individuals who spoke during public comment were against the suggestion and hoped the trustees would either keep the schools as they are or decide to go with K-5; however, a few district personnel were in favor of the option.

Noreen Swenson, a counselor at Numa Elementary School, asked the trustees to think of the best interest of the students. She said she believes K-5 considers the best interest of the students, as well as, teachers and parents.

“K-5 will offer great student achievement and will be more cost effective,” Swenson said.

Parent Beth Edwards was also against grade-level schools and even had a petition with signatures from parents who are also against the choice. She said it was not a smart decision and she did not want the decision to pass.

“Parents won’t want to volunteer if you have children in different schools,” she said. “It will become a huge pain for parents … K-5 is the smart decision.”

E.C. Best Elementary School Principal Keith Boone said the Budget Committee discussed the option and recommended it as the best decision for the district. He said the option takes away the least and that the district can’t loose any more staff.

“This plan eliminates competition between the three elementary schools,” he said. “Parents in the community grew up with grade-level schools … I’m not in favor of the plan, but I don’t want to cut any more teachers.”

Debra Smotherman said the grade-level schools allows teachers who work in the same grade to collaborate ideas with one another to best help the students.

Gregg Malkovich, Northside Early Learning Center principal, said NELC is a great school with a great set-up that allows him and his staff to concentrate on two grades that maximizes their effectiveness and benefits all involved.

After hearing comments from the public the board held a closed meeting to discuss grade-level school, after 15 minutes the board returned and discussed their opinions and voted on the action.

Trustee Clay Hendrix said he respected everyone’s opinion. He said he doesn’t buy into K-5 schools being better than grade-level schools.

The decision for Hendrix comes down to the fact he doesn’t want to reduce any more teachers in the elementary schools.

“We all have opinions,” Hendrix said. “My job is to make the best decision I can for the district and students.”

What is being done right now isn’t working, Trustee Matt Hyde said, “We need a change without increasing class sizes too much.”

He said with his decision he relied heavily on the recommendations of experts.

Superintendent Dr. Sandra Sheldon said with grade-level schools Northside Early Learning Center would be pre-kindergarten; Lahontan Elementary, kindergarten-first grade; E.C. Best Elementary, second-third grade; and Numa Elementary, fourth-fifth grade.

Grade-level schools will be implemented starting the fall 2015 school year.

Other items trustees approved or discussed included the following:

Approved RIF (reduce in force) 11 positions as follows: One position in each grade; kindergarten to fifth grade, two ELL teachers; elementary technology teacher; and CCHS social studies teacher and science teacher.

Approved decreased budget for early buyouts to $100,000 and decreased contingency to $65,000.


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