Master plan: Two new schools

Sixth-grader Tiandra Hudson said her classes were so crowded at the beginning of the year at Carson Middle School that some of her classmates had to sit on the floor.

Schedules were adjusted to eliminate the problem, but, every desk is still full, she said.

"I think they should build another middle school so everybody's not stuffed into two schools," she said.

Members of Carson City's Master Plan Committee agree. The committee will present a recommendation to the school board Tuesday calling for the district to build an additional middle school and another elementary school.

"A number of schools are at 100 percent capacity," said David Ruf, a parent on the committee. "For dollar efficiency, that's great for the community, but as far as learning goes, the students feel they are packed in too tight. I think it's very viable to look at new schools."

The committee, made up of about 40 community members, called on the district to build the schools by 2012.

The school district has relied on portable buildings to accommodate growth. Now, about 470 elementary students - 12 percent of the total population - are educated in portable classrooms. At the middle school level, 32 percent of the students are educated in modular buildings.

"Children do much better learning in a classroom than they do in portables," Ruf said. "It gives an individual a sense that the school is permanent and not something that can be trucked off."

Mike Mitchell, director of operations for the school district, said the portable buildings are more expensive to run and maintain, but a new school would also incur additional costs.

"The majority of the administrative staff would have to be duplicated at a new school," he explained. "You can go to the public to borrow the money to build the school, but you can't go to the public for operating costs.

"Where's that money going to come from? It would take a reprioritization of our budget."

Money to operate schools comes from the general fund, which is determined by the number of students enrolled in the district. The only way to increase funds is to increase school populations - and the district is at about 98 percent capacity, even though enrollment dipped by about 35 students this year.

Eagle Valley Middle School Principal Ferd Mariani understands the frustration.

"I feel like our schools at the middle school level are overcrowded, but I also know that it would be very expensive to build a third school," he said.

If You Go

What: Carson City School Board meeting

When: 7 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Sierra Room, Carson City Community Center, 821 E. William St.


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