Carson elementary school closure would save $3.5 million | NevadaAppeal.com

Carson elementary school closure would save $3.5 million

Teri Vance
Nevada Appeal Staff Writer
Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal
NEVADA APPEAL | NEVADA APPEAL

The best way to save money for the Carson City School District, officials said Tuesday, would be to close an elementary school.

According to numbers presented to the school board by Superintendent Richard Stokes, it would save about $3.5 million.

The board is anticipating major cutbacks, but will not have the numbers from the Legislature before it submits its tentative budget April 15.

With 926 fewer students than in 2003, Stokes said, it is no longer necessary to have six operating elementary schools. As of Jan. 16, 7,908 students were attending Carson City schools.

“We currently have some classrooms that have about eight students,” he said.

However, it would result in a massive rezoning, reduction in staff and increase in student-to-teacher ratio.

Parent Denise Gillott said she didn’t think closing a school would be a good idea.

“Not only do you increase classroom sizes, you run the risk of a child losing its identity,” she said. “Please do your research and please do what’s best for the

children.”

In her personal research, she said, she learned that elementary schools should not have more than 500 students. Closing a school would ensure at least 700 students per school, she said.

And she challenged the idea that classrooms have dramatically shrunk.

“None of my children has ever had an eight-person class,” she said.

Part of the plan would include a universal schedule, eliminating Fremont Elementary School’s year-round schedule.

Nearly 30 Fremont supporters wore homemade badges pinned to their chests that read “We Support Year-Round Education at Fremont.”

David Lowe, special-education teacher at Fremont Elementary School, touted the benefits of the year-round schedule.

They included higher attendance and retention in learning and in interest. He said incidents of vandalism and gaps in learning decrease.

“From my perspective, this schedule supports continuous learning,” he said.

Outside of academics there are benefits as well.

“It gives a lot of children regular meals and safe place to be,” he said.

Karri Couste, the mother of a child who has epilepsy and attention-deficit disorder, said she’s seen the benefits of the schedule with 45 days in session and 15 days off.

“He’s an amazing child,” she said. “He’ll work very hard for you, but he needs that break to keep working.”

Other options included eliminating all portable classrooms in the district, which would result in Empire Elementary School reducing classes to kindergarten through third grade because of fewer classrooms.

Another would be to stagger school start schedules.

Stokes also listed suggestions from staff and community members that included eliminating overtime, changing schedules for athletics, banning electrical devices in classrooms, limiting field trips and reducing school supplies.

Parent Joe Cacioppo urged board members to consider cutting programs higher up, rather than those in the classroom. He suggested cutting back on teacher training and bonus programs.

“Let’s not start with teachers and start in the classroom,” he said. “Let’s go higher up. It’s not a cure all, but it’s a start in the right direction.”

The general sentiment from parents and staff was to find alternatives to closing schools and increasing class size.

“Why don’t we pick up some courage?” parent Dan Bowler asked. “So many people have died so we can have public education. In this day and age, we need something to fight for. What better to fight for than a school?”

Board vice president Norm Scoggin thanked those who participated.

“Probably most of the things we’ve brought up will not be adopted,” he said. “Unfortunately, some of them may. As it is now, we’ve got to start planning.”

– Contact reporter Teri Vance at tvance@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1272.




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