Storey superintendent defends policy allowing students to go to schools in other counties
Appeal Staff Writer
More students are leaving Storey County schools than entering them, causing some concern that the tiny school district is losing state funding.
Storey County has seen 35 students leave the district for schools in other counties, and had only 22 come from other counties to attend Virginia City schools.
Rob Slaby said that each year the district has about as many entering as leaving, with the 2006-2007 year being unusual.
Parents request variances for a variety of reasons, Slaby said.
Some do so because students need special education or English-as-a-second-language classes that Storey County doesn’t have the resources to provide, Slaby said. Storey has a special-education program, but its size is limited.
Others work in Reno, Carson City or Dayton, and it’s easier for them to have their children in schools near the parents’ place of employment.
In some cases, Slaby said, the students began their education in another district, and the parents don’t want their children to have to change schools if they move to Storey County.
Variances have also been requested so students could enjoy athletic or extra-curricular activities not available in Storey County.
Parents from surrounding areas who want to put their students in Storey County schools usually do so because they want their children in smaller classes, because a parent works in Storey County or because Storey offers all-day kindergarten at Hugh Gallagher Elementary School in Virginia City.
Slaby said he has begun to refuse entrance for kindergarten students because the kindergarten class is getting too large.
Storey receives about $7,000 from the state for each student, Slaby said, and added that they receive the same amount for students coming in from other districts as they do for students who live in Storey County.
Slaby said he has projected the number of students would drop because families are not moving into the district. He blamed the high prices of homes in Storey County for the lack of families.
He said when the approved 3,000-home development at Painted Rock is built in the north end of the county, he will give more variances.
“I’m not going to bus students to Virginia City all the way from Painted Rock,” he said, citing costs as well as students riding a bus for more than two hours each day. “It’s not good for the students.”
Some parents complained that the school district was losing more than $100,000 a year letting students who live in Storey County attend other schools.
But Slaby defended his policy of allowing variances unless the student has a behavior problem or requires services Storey County can’t provide. He said people who take their students out of Storey to other districts still support the schools through their taxes.
“I always put the interests of the parents and the kids first,” he said. “I need guidelines to say ‘no’ to one set of taxpayers and ‘yes’ to another.”
• Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at firstname.lastname@example.org or 882-2111 ext. 351.
By the numbers
Number of students leaving and entering Storey County schools via variance procedure:
School: Hugh Gallagher Hillside Virginia City Virginia City Total
Elementary Elem. Middle School High School
2003-04 Entering 7 0 8 15 30
2003-04 Leaving 11 1 4 11 27
2004-05 Entering 10 0 7 17 34
2004-05 Leaving 11 0 5 15 31
2005-06 Entering 5 1 11 11 28
2005-06 Leaving 8 1 9 11 29
2006-07 Entering 5 0 7 8 22
2006-07 Leaving 12 3 7 13 35