Education Roundup: Can RPU stabilize enrollment at South Shore schools? |

Education Roundup: Can RPU stabilize enrollment at South Shore schools?

Axie Navas

Plans to combine Whittell High School and Zephyr Cove Elementary might still be years away, but some South Shore educators hope that the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s Regional Plan Update can staunch the schools’ declining enrollments and prevent the change.

The Douglas County School District approved a $200,000 Facilities Master Plan in April 2010 that provided a 10-year road map to revitalize the district’s schools. Phase One, which modernized Pinon Hills and Gardnerville elementary schools, was completed this year. The district is starting on the Phase Two improvements to Douglas High School with completion anticipated for fall 2015.

Phase Three, which calls for an estimated $3.83 million renovation of WHS to convert the school to a pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade facility, is still probably years away, according to DCSD Chief Financial Officer Holly Luna. But if enrollment keeps dropping, consolidation is a definite possibility.

“I think that was always the intent when you look at the declining enrollment. If the schools continue to decline it would make sense to combine them. The board could direct funds in that manner but that’s not what I see on the immediate horizon,” Luna said.

According to the master plan, projected utilization of both ZCES and WHS will be well below 70 percent for the 2019-20 school year. ZCES Principal Nancy Cauley said she’s seen enrollment at the elementary school fluctuate from a high of 225 students to a low of 180 students, and that this year the school had to cut a classroom teacher. The master plan cites maximum capacity at 253 children.

From what she’s heard of the Regional Plan Update, Cauley thinks it might attract more people to the community and stabilize the student body.

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“My No. 1 concern is to maintain a large enough education community to keep an elementary school here. I think little kids are best served in an environment that’s separate from middle schoolers and high schoolers,” Cauley said.

WHS Principal Crespin Esquivel said he plans to keep taking each day as it comes and that he can’t spend time worrying about impacts he can’t change. That doesn’t mean the master plan hasn’t been at the back of his mind, though.

The high school currently enrolls 238 students in grades seven through 12. According to the master plan, the schools capacity is 354 students.

If the district does combine the schools, there will need to be a lot of thought that goes into separating the different age groups, Esquivel said. When Kingsbury Middle School students came to Whittell, administrators needed to make adjustments. He said he understands concerns about having younger children and adolescents in the same facility.

Like Cauley, Esquivel said he’s optimistic about the RPU.

“From what I’ve heard, I believe it will open up opportunities for folks to work. I do agree that if they pass this plan, I’m pretty sure it will bring more families back to the area,” Esquivel said.

STHS gifts available for purchase

The deadline to place orders with the South Tahoe High School woodshop for maple and walnut cutting boards is Friday, Nov. 30. The boards cost $40. For more information, email Nathan Crnich at Checks can be dropped off at the STHS Associated Student Body office located at 1735 Lake Tahoe Blvd.

STHS yearbook accepting senior ads

The South Tahoe High School yearbook team will continue to accept senior ads until Dec. 5. Prices are as follows: whole page, $250; half page, $125; quarter page, $75; eighth of a page, $35. Cash, checks and credits cards accepted. Turn in senior ads or purchase yearbooks at the STHS Associated Student Body office located at 1735 Lake Tahoe Blvd.

Final LTUSD board meeting scheduled

The Lake Tahoe Unified School District’s final school board annual organization meeting will take place Dec. 11 at 6 p.m. in the Education Center Board Room located at 1021 Al Tahoe Blvd.

LTUSD extends deadline for committee applications

The deadline to apply for the Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee has been extended to 4:30 p.m. on Dec. 28. Seven vacancies will open on the Measure G CBOC on Jan. 31. Candidates must be at least 18 years old and reside within the Lake Tahoe Unified School District’s boundaries. Applications can be turned in at the superintendent’s office, 1021 Al Tahoe Blvd. For more information or to fill out an application, visit

Majority of California students fail to post strong physical fitness scores

About 31 percent of student participants in the 2012 Physical Fitness Test posted healthy scores in all six of the tested areas for the second year in a row, according to a statement from the California Department of Education.

“When we can call fewer than one out of three of our kids physically fit, we know we have a tremendous public health challenge on our hands,” State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said in the release.

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