For the first time in five years, the Carson City School District experienced an increase in students during the school year.
Andrew Feuling, director of Fiscal Services for the district, shared the news during a five-year Master Plan Committee meeting Thursday at the Carson City School District office.
Feuling said the district conducted a count of students enrolled in the district in September and December. The increase in students will affect future building space and zoning for the school district, which impacts the committee’s mission of recommending priorities for facility development through 2020.
The district is preparing for a large influx of students, starting as soon as the 2016-2017 school year, officials said. New housing developments and expansion of industrial employers will be expected to bring a large amount of families with school-aged children who will go to Carson City schools.
The closing of Silver State Charter School also will impact the district, said Superintendent Richard Stokes. He said there could be as many as 250 students coming from that school if they choose to go back to public school.
“We are expecting some measure of increase at the secondary level,” Stokes said. “We are not sure how it will impact us, besides having a structure that will be vacant that we will have to look at.”
Officials said the problem with a large influx of students is many of the schools, especially at the elementary level, are already full. Because the district introduced more kindergarten and pre-k classes, they have utilized many of the empty classrooms in the district. Stokes said discussions later in the year may be necessary about what they want to do with the filled elementary schools; whether the cap the number of elementary students at each site and look for a building for a new elementary school or to use more portables.
“That is high on our list because we believe it is high on the community’s list to get rid of those portables,” Stokes said.
With new students and buildings also comes the issue of zoning for the schools and how or if the district has to re-zone to accommodate new students coming into the district.
In addition to a potential new school building, Ron Swirczek, president of the school board, suggested thinking about building a site that will be dedicated to high school students interested in the STEAM programs — science, technology, engineering, art and math.
“Jobs need that creative thinking, and it would take pressure off of the middle and high schools and still create that CTE focus for students who are old enough to create that pathway,” Swirczek said.
Building new sites would create solutions for additional problems, including limited classroom availability for special education students.
The discussion also touched on issues that were discussed at the last meeting that hadn’t been completed yet, including what would be done in response to the annual operations surveys of all district sites. From these surveys, data was compiled with known priorities and costing estimates for fixes to the schools, which would total nearly $40 million during the next five years for every school, the district office, maintenance center, operations and transportation.
District officials also wanted to continue to look at some project recommendations from the last Master Plan that weren’t completed, including attempting to eliminate the 11 remaining portable classrooms from the district, including at Pioneer High School, a district office remodel, and Fritsch Elementary building renovations.
The Master Plan committee will meet again on Feb. 11.