Middle school to close | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Middle school to close

William Ferchland
Photo illustration by Rebecca Enerson / Tahoe Daily Tribune
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MINDEN – Kingsbury Middle School is closing in two years.

After 15 months of discussions with community members and more than two hours addressing the issue at a board of trustees meeting Tuesday night, the where and when was officially decided in a consolidation plan instigated by declining enrollment.

The advantages of Zephyr Cove Elementary School’s proximity to Whittell High School was the deciding factor in keeping the school open in a unanimous vote among the seven-member board.

Trustee Keith Roman centered on the staff-sharing possibilities that wouldn’t cut into class time as it would have if Zephyr Cove Elementary closed and Kingsbury remained opened.

“I can’t get past that one,” he said.

Zephyr Cove’s capacity of 16 classrooms, closeness to county property such as a ball field and library, and the ease of improving safety measures along Warrior Way were some of the deciding factors.

Some parents complained about safety issues along Warrior Way, the only route to Zephyr Cove that dead-ends at the high school, citing tourist parking for Zephyr Cove Beach and speeding as hazards for elementary students.

Superintendent John Soderman said it would be easy to make dips in the road to slow traffic.

Those who used the opportunity to speak to the board during its meeting Tuesday at Douglas High School’s media center argued, in even tones, for more time to address several issues and the financial implications of deciding on whether to close Zephyr Cove or Kingsbury.

A group of five parents cited 15 concerns including athletics, curriculum and parking they felt needed to be addressed.

“I think there are a lot of areas where if we make rush to judgment we could make a mistake,” said parent Greg Felton.

Soderman said additional time wouldn’t bring anything new to the table and believed it was a tactic for stalling. Others agreed.

“We need to move forward,” said trustee Cindy Trigg, who represents the Tahoe portion of the Douglas County School District. “We have discussed this issue over and over and over.”

After the vote to close Kingsbury was completed, Trigg used the time to admit she proposed revisiting the closure date. Many in the crowd of about 50 were displeased with the notion of closing it a year earlier. Some said the credibility of the board and district officials would be lost since the board voted in March to close either Zephyr Cove or Kingsbury at the 2008-09 school year.

“Everybody has set their plans around that date,” said Kingsbury Middle School student Jack Percival.

In the end, the board voted 5-2 to keep the closure date at the 2008-09 school year.

Trustee President Connie Wennhold and Sharla Hales dissented.

Wennhold said the option of closing after next school year would help equalize district staffing and allow the use of $800,000 which represents the savings in Kingsbury’s operating costs.

– Contact William Ferchland at wferchland@tahoedailytribune.com


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