Parents protest possible school closures
Booster club members at Dayton’s Riverview Elementary School sent home fliers this week urging parents to protest the possible closure of two Lyon County schools as part of budget cuts.
“Closing these two schools is just going to overcrowd the classrooms, which will make it more difficult to teach effectively,” said Tami Strong, president of the booster club. “There’s so many different things that could be considered before you decide to close a school.”
Lyon County School Board President John Stevens said he and his fellow trustees agree – for the time being.
“We’re not cutting anything right now,” he said.
The proposals came before the board at the March 15 budget planning meeting. Under the governor’s proposed budget, the school district would lose $4.5 million in funding from the state, on top of $1.5 million in lost revenue because of declining enrollment.
“That $4.5 million in an already tight budget is a really huge number,” he said.
However, Stevens said, the board refused to take any action at the meeting, waiting, instead, to see what the final budget would be from the Legislature.
The board decided against taking any action to cut spending in high school athletics, reduce staffing and salaries or close any schools.
“Why would we do permanent things that can’t be undone? We basically threw down a gauntlet.” Stevens said. “We aren’t willing to shut them down for a theoretical budget. We will do what we have to do when we get a real budget.”
Rather than make any decisions now, he said, the board will decide on three possible scenarios in anticipation of the state’s final budget.
Plan “A” would prepare for $4.5 million cuts. Plan “B” would cut $3.5 million from the budget, and Plan “C” would forecast a $2.5 million reduction.
He said closing Riverview Elementary and Silver Stage Middle schools would likely only be considered in Plan “A.” If trustees are adamantly opposed, he said, they should come up with a substitute.
“If you absolutely don’t want to do something, you have to have an alternative,” he said. “We have to reach that number somehow.”
If Riverview were to close, the students would be rezoned to Dayton and Sutro elementary schools. If Silver Stage Middle School were to close, the elementary school would absorb the sixth-graders and the seventh- and eighth-graders would move on to the high school.
Stevens said those two schools are being considered because the middle school is in the heart of the declining enrollment and the elementary school was built in anticipation of growth that never came to fruition.
While Strong argued no schools should close, she said Riverview, which opened four years ago, should be at the bottom of the list.
“Riverview has the highest math scores in the district,” she said. “And our actual school building is the most efficient because it is the newest.”
The board will prepare its contingency plans at its March 29 meeting at Silver Stage Middle School. Although budget cuts are not on the agenda for this Tuesday’s meeting, Strong is encouraging parents to attend and voice their opposition to school closures.