Teri Vance: Carson Montessori fights for its future

Jason Gardner competes in the newspaper toss during the End of Bike Week Party on Friday evening in McFadden Plaza.

Jason Gardner competes in the newspaper toss during the End of Bike Week Party on Friday evening in McFadden Plaza.

Parents, students and staff at Carson Montessori School are worried about the future of their school.

After losing their bid in April for a special-use permit, school officials are appealing next week to the Carson City Board of Supervisors.

Principal Jessica Daniels told a group of nearly 70 parents and community members gathered Thursday evening that use of the nearby buildings are essential for a secure testing site to administer assessments mandated by the state.

“Without this special-use permit, I cannot stay compliant with the state,” she said. “If I don’t stay compliant with the state, they will close us down. It is Nevada Revised Statutes, we are bound to follow it.”

Community members came together this week to plan for Thursday’s meeting of the Carson City Board of Supervisors. Students will give a presentation urging supervisors to approve the permit that will allow the school to continue to use a nearby building as a testing center.

Daniels gave a brief history of the school, which opened as a charter sponsored by the Carson City School District 12 years ago in the industrial area near Goni Road.

While the school’s special-use permit is grandfathered in, permits to use surrounding buildings have been denied.

Daniels, who taught at Carson City schools for many years, took over as principal 10 years ago. She said she recognized immediately the location wasn’t ideal for a school, but it has been a difficult road to find a new location.

“Since we’ve been here, we’ve been trying to leave this entire time,” Daniels said.

The school’s ultimate goal is to find a new location — with room for buses and playgrounds and an open format where all students interact rather than closed off in classrooms. However, Daniels said, that’s likely a three- to five-year process.

In the short-term, she said, the solution is to use the nearby buildings as a testing center and to house the older grades.

She said other suggestions, such as busing students to an off-site location that would also need to be leased, haven’t been feasible. Even sharing space with the Carson City School District isn’t practical.

“The district has informed us they have no room,” she said. “They are having to use all of their labs for their assessments.”

Without the permit, Daniels fears she will have to reduce enrollment from the current 289 students. With that, would come teacher layoffs.

School officials are hoping supervisors will issue the special-use permit, but are concerned they may send the issue back to the planning commission.

Daniels said she has already spent $10,000 on the appeals process and isn’t willing to start over.

“Carson Montessori is the most fiscally sound educational entity in the state of Nevada,” she said. “That comes from prudent financial planning.”

Thursday’s presentation at the meeting will be a reflection of the way they run their school, led by students and tempered.

“We want to be logical,” Daniels said. “We want to be respectful and graceful. We want to be tactful. That’s the Montessori way.”

For information about the school, go to carsonmontessori.com.

Teri Vance is a journalist, freelance writer and native Nevadan. Contact her with column ideas at terivance@rocketmail.com.


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