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Douglas lake school improvements a hit with parents

Cory Fisher

Students, parents, teachers, administrators – ask anyone affiliated with Douglas County’s three lake schools and they’ll tell you facility improvements have been a long time coming.

“The school district finally put their money where their mouth is,” said Mike Jabara of the Tahoe Citizens Committee. “They really followed through with what they said they were going to do.”

Roughly 70 percent of the district’s 1997-98 budget will go toward facility upgrades at Tahoe’s schools, with major construction scheduled for the summer of 1998.

In addition, roughly $463,000 of Building and Sites expenditures went into lake maintenance projects completed this summer.

With three of the district’s five oldest schools at Tahoe, the TCC has long contended that lake property taxes have helped subsidize new and expanding schools in the valley, resulting in the neglect of facilities at the lake. A vigorous, and ultimately unsuccessful fight to form a separate Tahoe school district ensued.

In the fall of 1996, a newly formed Lake Facilities Task Force – comprised of 20 parents and community members, three school administrators, board member Don Forrester and chaired by district Director of Business Services Rick Kester – spent close to six months “prioritizing a list of reasonable and feasible needs” at the lake schools.

The board responded by allocating more than $1.5 million to top priority lake facility improvements in the 1997-98 budget.

“The Facilities Task Force wouldn’t have been formed if not for pressure from the TCC,” said Kati Graham, Task Force member and Kingsbury Middle School Parent Advisory Committee President. “But parents and teachers are very pleased – the district kept their word on everything. However, parents need to stay involved – if the district is aware of things, I think they’ll continue do something about it.”

Kester is not so quick to give the TCC credit for facility upgrades.

“It’s been our plan since 1990 to turn to our older schools once the new ones were built,” he said. “We’re about following through – not because of the TCC, but because it was the right thing to do. But the committee did help to define what was needed.

“It may have been overdue, but at least we responded,” Kester continued. “Washoe County didn’t exactly respond to Incline.”

Upgrades this summer included:

— A second IBM computer lab for fifth- and sixth-graders at KMS, as well as the installation of a schoolwide computer network.

— New carpets in all three schools.

— New window coverings at all three schools.

— Replacement of all asphalt and bad cement at KMS.

— Site drainage improvements at Zephyr Cove Elementary and George Whittell High schools (TRPA requirements).

— Entire exterior of ZCE and most of interiors of all three schools.

— Several ZCE classroom upgrades, including new sinks, counters, cabinets, drinking fountains and hot water.

Plans for summer of 1998 include:

— Addition of a new 5000 sq. ft. library at GWHS, with classroom and computer lab.

— Old library at GWHS will be converted into a new science classroom with lab.

Plans for summer of 1999 include:

— The addition of at least two new classrooms at ZCE.

Facilities meeting scheduled:

On Sept. 30, the community is invited to join the school board for a special facilities tour. The group will gather in the KMS library at 5 p.m., then travel to Whittell and end up at Zephyr Cove. For details, contact the district office at (702) 782-5131.


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