Kingsbury Middle School closure eyed | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Kingsbury Middle School closure eyed

William Ferchland

This school year might represent the beginning of the end for Kingsbury Middle School.

The first of three community meetings on the likely closure of Kingsbury is scheduled for December with the other two slated for January.

A consolidation plan possibly will be brought to the Douglas County School District Board of Trustees in March. The school, the second smallest in the district and the newest among the three Lake Tahoe schools, has about 155 students and will likely fall to 120, according to Superintendent John Soderman.

A lack of affordable housing on the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe and less expensive housing in Carson Valley have been cited as reasons for the decline.

If more students don’t enroll in the school, the site will likely close after the 2007-08 school year.

Besides the impact declining enrollment has on curriculum, Soderman said it doesn’t make good business sense to operate a school of eight classroom teachers and 13 support workers with only 120 students.

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With fewer students there will be fewer class offerings, Soderman said.

There are at least two options for reconfiguring grade levels among Zephyr Cover Elementary and Whittell High School, which both rest on Warrior Way.

One is having kindergarten to seventh grade at Zephyr Cove with eighth to 12th grade at the high school.

The other configuration is kindergarten to eighth grade at Zephyr Cove Elementary with the remaining grades located at Whittell.

The property will be kept by the district for the short-term future, Soderman said, with possibilities of leasing the building to the county.

“Once it’s gone, it’s gone,” Soderman said. “So we don’t really see selling it.”

The teachers, counselor and others will “follow the students” to other sites, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Rich Alexander said.

“We’re going to do everything possible to find positions for these people in the district,” Alexander said.

Soderman said the district estimates it will save $850,000 a year by closing the school. He doubted the possible closure will prompt families to move, saying those decisions rely more on housing costs and job opportunities.

The Lake Tahoe schools, small in size, should be a draw, he said.

“I’d love to be able to send my kids to the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe,” he said.

The first parent and community meeting is scheduled for Dec. 6 at 8:45 a.m. at Kingsbury Middle School.