Consultant: Close Valley middle school | NevadaAppeal.com

Consultant: Close Valley middle school

by Scott Neuffer
Nevada Appeal News Service

Developers of the school district’s new 10-year facilities master plan are recommending closing one middle school in the Valley, moving ninth-graders to the high school and converting one elementary school into a kindergarten through eighth-grade operation.

MGT of America, which was awarded a $200,000 contract last summer to develop the plan, laid out their recommendations Tuesday night at Carson Valley Middle School in front of about 50 school board members, staff and parents.

“It’s a dynamic facilities master plan,” said MGT Principal William Carnes. “There will be adjustments made in the next 10 years as the plan unfolds.”

At the Lake, the plan calls for the consolidation of Zephyr Cove Elementary and Whittell High School into a kindergarten to 12th-grade school.

In laying out their reasoning behind the recommendations, MGT consultants projected that student enrollment will both dip slightly and rise slightly during the next 10 years, but will not exceed a total of 7,000 students.

MGT also discussed the current capacities of schools. As of now, Pinon Hills Elementary is the only school over its official capacity at a 107 percent. Whittell High School is the least used at 65 percent, with Pau-Wa-Lu Middle School following at 78 percent.

Ten-year projections into the future show five schools over capacity, including Scarselli Elementary at 103 percent, Jacks Valley Elementary at 110 percent, Minden Elementary at 117 percent, Pinon Hills Elementary at 140 percent and Carson Valley Middle School at 106 percent.

The same projections show Pau-Wa-Lu dropping to 63 percent in 10 years, and Whittell High School dropping to 43 percent.

Phase 1 of the plan includes renovating or expanding Pinon Hills, Meneley, Gardnerville and Jacks Valley elementary schools for a total cost of $16.3 million. Boundaries would be adjusted to move 50 students from Gardnerville Elementary to Minden Elementary and 100 students from Minden Elementary to Meneley Elementary.

Phase 2 would entail an estimated $23 million renovation of Douglas High School to accommodate incoming ninth-graders. Consequently, one middle school would be closed, and the other renovated for the Valley’s seventh- and eighth-grade students. In addition, one elementary school in the Valley would be converted, at a cost of about $2.9 million, into a kindergarten-eighth-grade school.

“This would give parents, students and teachers more options,” said MGT Senior Partner Edward Humble.

He said moving ninth-graders back to the high school was a top priority among the community, but wasn’t included in phase 1.

When it comes to deciding which middle school to close, and which elementary school to convert, Carnes said more studies are needed.

The empty middle school would be used for administrative offices, professional development, alternative school and a possible career and technical education center. Assuming CVMS would be closed and Pau-Wa-Lu kept open, MGT estimated the cost of the measure at a little more than $1 million.

Phase 3 would require roughly $1.9 million to convert Whittell High School into a kindergarten-12th-grade school, and another $1.9 million to renovate Scarselli Elementary.

Assuming a 5 percent annual inflation rate, MGT’s three phases would cost nearly $58 million.

District Chief Financial Officer Holly Luna estimated the district has about $30-40 million in bond proceeds, plus whatever the district receives from the future liquidation of Kingsbury Middle School.

MGT presented other, cheaper options as well.

Maintaining the current grade configuration in the Valley and adding capacity to schools as needed would cost the district $27.7 million. Another option to move sixth-graders in the Valley to the middle schools and ninth-graders to the high school would cost $37.3 million in improvements.

Tuesday’s meeting was a preliminary overview of the plan. School board members can accept or reject any recommendation. A town hall meeting to further discuss the matter will be 5 p.m. Feb. 25 at Carson Valley Middle School.