Magnet school will answer the bell |

Magnet school will answer the bell

William Ferchland
Dan Thrift / Tahoe Daily Tribune / Lake Tahoe Unified School District Superintendent James Tarwater, left, goes over some of the details in establishing the Lake Tahoe Environmental Science Magnet School on Tuesday during the school board meeting.

After 17 minutes of discussion and a few questions from the audience, the Lake Tahoe Environmental Science Magnet School was approved amid applause by the Lake Tahoe Unified School District Board of Education.

The unanimous decision Tuesday, with board member Barbara Bannar absent although she supported the proposal, ushers in the first magnet school for the district and reopens a school that served as a cornerstone for the small Meyers community.

The school will have core curriculum such as language arts, math and social studies, which will have an emphasis on environment.

It will also host a prekindergarten level, named “Preppie Kindergarten” by Superintendent James Tarwater, for 30 students who have late birthdays or are not developmentally ready for kindergarten. Hours of the prekindergarten grade mirror the kindergarten day at three hours and 20 minutes.

Applications for parents to enter their children in an Aug. 15 lottery that will decide who gets into the school are available at the district office. In addition, Tarwater announced 1,400 applications will be mailed to parents in the district.

Thirty-five applications have been sent to the district, with 11 coming from parents with students outside the district, Tarwater said. It’s the district’s hope the magnet school will boost state revenue the district and put some brakes on enrollment declines by attracting students who are not currently in the district.

Kristi Leonard is one of the 11 parents who submitted an application of a student not attending the district’s schools. She was also a member of the planning committee of a parent group who targeted Meyers as a proposed charter school.

“It’s about time and it’s great to see it happening,” Leonard said.

The projected cost is $107,000 from the general fund for school personnel and roughly $359,000 from the developer fee fund for cafeteria, technology, two buses and other start-up costs besides staffing.

Beth Quant also attended the meeting. Representing the lone teacher applicant, Quant, a former Meyers Elementary teacher with 20 years in the district, was excited about the school.

Quant has been instrumental in bringing events to her school that focus on Earth Day, recycling and other environment projects.

“I think it’s going to be wonderful,” Quant said. “It’s a place where kids can do hands-on learning and get excited about what they’re learning and still get done all of the rest of the (academics) they need.”

The kindergarten-through-fifth-grade school will begin at 9:20 a.m. and end at 3:45 p.m., pending participation in the program and labor negotiations. A bus route will be formed when the district has an idea of where the students will be coming from, officials said.

Town hall meetings have been scheduled for informational purposes. The first one is scheduled for Thursday at South Tahoe Middle School’s multipurpose room. It will be followed by one July 26 at Bijou Community School and July 28 at Tahoe Valley Elementary. All meetings will begin at 7 p.m.


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