Shrinking school gets one-year prinicipal |

Shrinking school gets one-year prinicipal

William Ferchland, Tahoe Daily Tribune

Kathi Jensen, assistant principal at South Tahoe Middle School, will become acting principal at Meyers Elementary School next year.

Doug Forte, the current principal at Meyers Elementary School, is retiring this year after more than 30 years with the Lake Tahoe Unified School District.

Jensen, 48, will become acting principal for one year while the district examines the declining enrollment at the Meyers school. The school has recently lost 120 students and experienced overstaffing this year which raises concern about the future of the education facility, said Beth Delacour, the human resources director for the district.

“We used an employee instead of filling the position,” Delacour said. “We’re watching our enrollment and we’re afraid if we hired that (outside) person we might have to lay off that person after a year. If (enrollment) continues to go down we might have to have conversations about closing the school.”

Diane Scheerhorn, superintendent for the district, said closing the school is just one option if Meyers’ enrollment continues to decline.

“We haven’t looked at any one specific thing,” Scheerhorn said. “We certainly will do some research on what other school districts have done in similar situations.”

A $200,000 seismic retrofit for Meyers will be performed this summer.

“Until we really research all of our options we need to maintain our buildings no matter what,” Scheerhorn said.

If more empty desks appear at the end of this year and the beginning of next, the district will hold public forums to address the situation. However, Scheerhorn mused, South Lake Tahoe’s population could even out or increase in the upcoming months.

Additionally, Jensen’s move from the middle school to Meyers is considered cost-effective. The financially strapped LTUSD will save money by not hiring a principal candidate outside the district.

Twenty-two years ago Jensen began her education career as a substitute teacher in the district. She substituted many times at Meyers, she said, including two stints as teacher at the school.

Jensen said she is well aware of the declining enrollment at Meyers.

“I don’t want to close an elementary school,” she said. “Five elementary schools, one middle school and one high school that’s what we’ve had and it would be nice to keep it the same.”

Meetings with the Meyers staff and PTA are in Jensen’s near future. She is somber about leaving South Tahoe Middle School but her voice prickles with excitement when talking about her new position.

“When you’re an assistant principal you hope you’re going to be principal, at least that was my goal,” Jensen said. “A new administrative challenge is just so exciting.”

Delacour plans to fill Jensen’s vacated middle school spot with a district employee on a one-year basis.

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