School board eyes calendar changes |

School board eyes calendar changes

by Merrie Leininger

MINDEN – The Douglas County School Board will decide Tuesday whether to take Gardnerville Elementary School off a multi-track schedule and put it on a year-round, single-track calendar.

Scarselli and C.C. Meneley elementary schools would follow suit in coming years, according to recommendations from the district’s staff.

Every November, the board reviews the issue because multi-track is considered a last-ditch effort for crowded schools and is unpopular with teachers and parents alike.

Director of Business Services Rick Kester said it is important that the schools, once taken off multi-track, stay off.

“The second low kindergarten (attendance) really is what’s driven this plan,” Kester said. “We’ve always maintained we’re not going to take them off for one year and then put them on. It needs to have permanency to it. The order you see in our plan is determined by who reaches this comfortable state.”

At the October school board meeting, the Douglas County Professional Education Association presented the results of an annual survey of teachers and parents on the impact of year-round multi-track. They concluded the hectic schedule had a negative effect on issues such as social development, professional development, parent and family impact, staff morale and education.

The staff will recommend at the Tuesday board meeting to convert Gardnerville to a single-track calendar for the school year 2000-2001; add one instructional pod to Minden Elementary School by November 2000; and convert Scarselli to single track for 2001-2002 and CC Meneley to single track for 2002-2003 if their enrollment continues to decline.

The Minden Elementary pod, a wing of eight new classrooms, would cost a million dollars, according to staff reports, and would come from the district’s capital projects fund. It would also delay phase one of the million-dollar addition and renovations that are now scheduled to begin this summer on Gardnerville because the district doesn’t have the funds to proceed with both projects. The Gardnerville renovations would eventually add five new classrooms and move students completely out of the old Gardnerville building next door.

If the board decides the Gardnerville renovations are more important, they could vote to leave Gardnerville on multi-track and approve an attendance boundary change that would move some Minden Elementary students into Gardnerville. Minden now has 42 students more than its capacity of 300.

However, the staff stated in its report that the Gardnerville facility renovations could wait if overcrowding at Minden Elementary could be relieved and the conversions to single-track could be done smoothly over the next three years. According to Kester, building the pod at Minden Elementary is the key to the whole plan. Without added classrooms at Minden Elementary, a boundary change is almost inevitable.

“Adding onto Minden buys the time and provides the insurance to allow the other schools to be converted to single-track,” Kester said.

Kester said another key component to the plan is continued annual evaluations to ensure the numbers comply with the projections.

Mike Jessup of the teacher’s association, and also a teacher at C.C. Meneley said the recommendation is exactly what the association had been hoping for. He said they are even willing to postpone renovations at Gardnerville in order to convert the calendars.

“I think the Gardnerville people understand that was going to be postponed based these decisions,” he said. “The association doesn’t have any problems with year-round single-track. Multi-track is the one we feel has the most negative ramifications on learning. Year-round can have some positive ramifications on learning. It is the wisest thing to do.”

What: Douglas County School Board

When: 3:30 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Carson Valley Middle School library