Decision on schools due day before election |

Decision on schools due day before election

William Ferchland
Dan Thrift/Tahoe Daily Tribune Meyers Elementary School is the school most likely to be closed.

Then there were three.

A decision April 12 on three options will determine which elementary schools will remain open – and the diversity of their student population – if a parcel tax isn’t passed April 13.

Principals and administrative heads have worked with the Lake Tahoe Unified School District school board to narrow down a critical decision of which three elementary schools will remain open if Measure L isn’t passed by a two-thirds vote.

Due to its distant location, Meyers Elementary is a certain odd-school out, while Tahoe Valley and Sierra House schools are a lock to remain open.

Only the Bijou and Al Tahoe sites remain in limbo as to whether they will be open next school year.

The three choices differ on school boundaries, thus mixing the diversity of each school’s population.

Board member Madeline Fernald said she was leaning toward plans “B” and “C’ since the diversity levels were more equitable.

The length of bus routes were also important. Steve Morales, director of facilities, said with poor weather and traffic conditions, the longest time a student will be on a bus is an hour.

All scenarios split where Meyers’ students will attend school. Those along Pioneer Trail and the east portion of Apache Avenue would attend Sierra House. The others, such as those living on the west side of Apache Avenue and South and North Upper Truckee, would attend Tahoe Valley.

“The location made it real difficult for (Meyers Elementary) to remain open and still be able to load the school at the numbers we will need,” Morales said.

Jim Watson, principal of Bijou, which has the highest enrollment at 507 and the most minority students at 87 percent, said the spread of diversity will benefit the district.

“As we know, the English academic role models are important for our English learners,” Watson said.

Yet the spread of diversity will lose the nucleus of socio-economic disadvantaged students, which the state gives the district money for special programs and staff. To receive Title 1 funding, a school must have at least 35 percent of its population be socioeconomically disadvantaged students, Watson said.

Capacity was also an issue. While all schools would have more than 630 students, Morales said the ideal maximum capacity of each site is about 550 students.

“When you take five schools and put them into three it isn’t going to be the same,” Watson said. “These plans are attempting to make the best out of a bad situation.”

– E-mail William Ferchland at

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