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Advisory panel to study declining enrollment

Emma Garrard/Sierra SunDana Hurt teaches a fifth-grade dual immersion class at Kings Beach Elementary School. Attendance at the North Shore school is at capacity while enrollment at other lake-side schools is down.
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To address declining enrollment and other critical issues, the Tahoe Truckee school board last week agreed to create a citizen’s committee to study restructuring of the district’s North Shore schools.

“We are forming a committee to look at how to maximize all our facilities on the lake-side of the district so that we can best serve all our children,” board President Kristy Olk said Tuesday in an e-mail.

On Thursday, the district sent letters to parents and other parties, informing them of the committee’s creation, and inviting them to participate.



At last week’s meeting, the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District board of trustees voted to retain consultant Carol Brush to help form a Restructuring and Reconfiguration Advisory Committee for the district’s four Tahoe Basin schools.

The committee will focus on staffing, enrollment, resources and curriculum at North Tahoe Middle School, North Tahoe High School, Tahoe Lake Elementary and Kings Beach Elementary.



“North Tahoe Middle did not make their [Adequate Yearly Progress] this year, putting them in six years of [Program Improvement],” said district consultant Brush. “The board asked us for this.”

The Federal No Child Left Behind Act defines Adequate Yearly Progress, a growth target, by the results of standardized testing, according to previous comments by district Director of Curriculum Jessamy Lasher.

The changes called for by the federal law differ from the kind of restructuring the soon-to-be-formed advisory committee may recommend, said North Tahoe Middle School Principal Teresa Rensch.

“This direction comes from declining enrollment,” Rensch said.

The reconfiguration committee will evaluate whether the schools “are being as economically efficient as we can be, with the new building and all of the resources that we have,” Rensch explained.

The letter the district released Thursday cites as a goal of the committee to restructure “Kings Beach Elementary School consistent with the federal requirements found in No Child Left Behind.”

The current status of the North Shore grade school is “on hold,” after improved test scores lifted them out of the need-to-improve category.

Despite the school’s popular dual-immersion program, the district has faced the challenge of raising the test scores of the school’s nonnative English-speakers. The restructuring committee will “address the high concentration of English Learner students in specific schools,” according to Brush’s letter.

The board has set forth several goals for the committee, which is scheduled to begin meeting in November. The adopted timeline asks the committee to produce a report to the trustees by March 2008.

The board agreed to compensate participants $500 apiece. Once formed, the committee will serve in an advisory role to the board.

“This is an exploratory group to get pros and cons for the school board,” Brush said.


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