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Facilities study findings revealed

Cory Fisher

Parents of students in Douglas County’s lake schools may finally be getting their wish – money for sorely needed facility upgrades.

A committee assigned to conduct an analysis of facility needs at Douglas County’s three lake schools presented its findings at the district board meeting Tuesday, after which several members of the school board acknowledged the importance of the findings in future budget considerations.

“The timing is such that we can now turn our attention to the district’s older schools, which include the lake schools as a top priority,” said Superintendent Pendery Clark. “Now the board has to determine that it’s feasible.”

The Lake Facilities Task Force, comprised of 20 parents and community members, three school administrators, board member Don Forrester and chaired by Director of Business Services Rick Kester, spent four months evaluating the needs of the three lake schools. Members toured lake and valley facilities and surveyed parents, staff and students.

The final result was a “prioritized list of reasonable and feasible needs” within the three schools.

Top recommended projects were broken down into two categories:

Top priorities listed under “improvements and expansions” that are estimated to cost less than $500,000:

1. Additional kindergarten room at Zephyr Cove Elementary.

2. Expand practice field at George Whittell High School to full-size soccer field, meaning the current bus shed would have to be moved.

3. Redesign play areas and resurface or reseal playground at Zephyr Cove. Also improve playground drainage.

4. Install new sinks with hot water and cabinets in Zephyr Cove classrooms.

5. Provide a new, functional faculty room at Whittell.

6. Reconstruct a snack bar, including restrooms and outside seating areas at Whittell.

7. Expand locker room and relocate weight room at Whittell. Also relocate district transportation office.

Top priorities listed under “major improvements” that are estimated to cost more than $500,000:

1. Construction of a new library and research center at Whittell.

2. Construct three new classrooms at Zephyr Cove with restrooms.

3. Construction of additional science and computer labs at Whittell.

4. Construction of a permanent music room at Kingsbury Middle School to replace current portable.

Kester said based on the district’s 10-year plan, many of these projects are now a high priority, and are expected to show up in budget recommendations to be presented to the board April 8.

“I don’t see anything on this list that isn’t feasible,” he said. “But they will have to be measured against districtwide needs and TRPA considerations.”

In other news, Dr. Carolyn Chapman presented results of her Schools Comparability Study, which examined curriculum, programs, support services and extracurricular activities among other district schools and statewide. No conclusions were drawn but notable findings were:

— Lake students participate more in extracurricular activities.

— A smaller percentage of Whittell students are taking advanced science as compared to Douglas High School.

— Lake students get more individualized attention.

— Lake students rank highest on standardized fourth-grade tests, but dropped off in seventh-grade math.

— 11 percent of 1996 Whittell graduates went to four-year colleges, while 36 percent went from Douglas High. Whittell dropped from 49 percent in 1995.

— Many parents want a wider variety of course offerings and better school books and materials at Whittell and are not happy with the building at Zephyr Cove.

— A higher percentage of teachers at the three lake schools have higher degrees and more than 10 years of teaching experience.


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