Interest soaring for education options | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Interest soaring for education options

William Ferchland
Jim Grant / Tahoe Daily Tribune St. Theresa Catholic School students file into class. School officials have experienced an influx of applications.
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Danette Winslow has a stack of enrollment applications on her principal’s desk at St. Theresa Catholic School. Across town, the phone at Visions in Education Charter School is ringing more often.

The two schools that represent educational options outside Lake Tahoe Unified School District stated they have received more interest from parents who want to transfer their children out of the district.

Overcrowding at the elementary schools and larger class sizes at the lower grades are the main arguments for parents who wish to transfer their children.

Chris Campion said he and his wife are considering moving their elementary grade child from LTUSD.

“We’re not optimistic about the crowding and the amount of (future) deficits,” he said. “Unless something else gives they’re going to be facing these problems every year.”

Consecutive years of declining enrollment has forced the school board to make multimillion-dollar cuts. A parcel tax to replenish funds that would have kept two of the district’s five elementary schools open, maintained class-size reduction and retain staff failed last month.

Winslow, principal of St. Theresa Catholic School, doesn’t attribute the rise in parent interviews or calls for applications solely to the defeat of Measure L but said it is a factor.

“I can say on an average we’re conducting eight to 10 interviews a week for new students,” she said, adding the number is “pretty high.”

The private school, which caters to kindergarten through eighth-grade students, has an enrollment of 165. It can hold about 100 more, Winslow said.

“Our numbers are definitely going up but we’re not full,” she said.

For the first time in its 10-year history, kindergarten at the school has a waiting list. It bodes well for the school’s future since those students will likely attend the higher grades.

Winslow acknowledged parents wanting small class sizes won’t find it at St. Theresa’s school. Classrooms can, and will, hold 32 students, she said.

Winslow said the school stayed neutral on Measure L because she didn’t want parents moving their children to the school as a last resort.

Rumors circulated the school raised its tuition after the tax failed. Winslow said the tuition hike is a standard cost-of-living adjustment done yearly. Next year’s tuition will be $2,750.

Carey Brown, a teacher at Visions, located at 800 Emerald Bay Road, has noticed more calls from parents with children in elementary schools. She attributed it to the failure of Measure L.

“Parents are worried neighborhood schools are going to close,” she said.

Visions has two academies – one for home school and the other for independent studies – with students given assignments to do at home. The highest student-teacher ratio is 35 to 1.

Registration for the school begins later this month or in early June, Brown said.

LTUSD plans to lose 150 students next year, according to its second interim financial report. Superintendent Diane Scheerhorn said the projection didn’t change with the defeat of Measure L.

A survey will be distributed throughout the district this year to determine how many parents intend to keep their children in the district, Sheerhorn added.

– E-mail William Ferchland at wferchland@tahoedailytribune.com.


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