Tahoe Truckee school board opts to not move fourth graders back to Tahoe Lake, Kings Beach schools | SierraSun.com

Tahoe Truckee school board opts to not move fourth graders back to Tahoe Lake, Kings Beach schools

Jason Shueh
Sierra Sun

TAHOE CITY, Calif. and#8212;The school board is supporting a recommendation against returning fourth graders to Tahoe Lake and Kings Beach elementary schools, a move its superintendent said would destroy current academic progress and back track on last yearand#8217;s reconfiguration.

In his presentation during Wednesdayand#8217;s special meeting of the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District, Superintendent Steve Jennings said the district must maintain its current grade configuration for the 2010-11 school year.

and#8220;Changing now would result in the lost momentum of student achievement and social and emotional development,and#8221; said Jennings, explaining that in addition to numerous administrative and logistical changes It would require, returning the fourth grade could possibly hamper the districtand#8217;s Professional Learning Communities, a program that coordinates grade-level teacher collaboration for student instruction and intervention.

Jennings said the PLC model, heralded by the administration and teachers as a game-changing program, is a multi-year process and any current gains would be lost if the schools had to restructure themselves due to staffing and class changes.

He said other negative impacts include fourth graders with decreased enrichment resources at Tahoe Lake Elementary. Jennings said the resources are already established and well developed at North Tahoe Middle School, mentioning drama and art programs and the Gifted and Talented Education program as examples.

Last month, Stacey Bordes, president of Tahoe Lake Elementaryand#8217;s Parent Teacher Organization, suggested fourth graders be returned from North Tahoe Middle School to Tahoe Lake and Kings Beach elementary schools, a suggestion Trustee Lisa Mohun validated by recommending it for future board discussion.

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On Wednesday, Bordes disagreed with Jennings, saying a comparable educational environment could be developed with a K-4 configuration at the lakeside elementary schools.

and#8220;If the fourth grade moves, it seems thereand#8217;s a difference that collaboration cannot happen, but I would like to clarify we could do a third grade and fourth grade collaboration,and#8221; Bordes said, referring to PLC collaboration of teachers in different grades.

Further disagreeing with Jenningsand#8217; argument of limited resources, Bordes said enrichment programs such as GATE, drama and art already exist at Tahoe Lake Elementary so the fourth graders would still have access to the programs.

During the night, many Tahoe Lake parents also talked about perceived overcrowding problems and fears of bullying by older students at the current 4-8 model at North Tahoe Middle School.

With the exception of Mohun and#8212; who said she needed more information before she could support the current configuration and#8212; board members Pat Gibbons-Johnson, Kirsten Livak, Kristy Olk and Bev Ducey agreed with Jennings and recommended staff maintain the current configuration.

However, they said they understood parent concerns and would investigate creating a task force to evaluate the impacts of last yearand#8217;s reconfiguration.

and#8220;Weand#8217;re in a transformational process, and transformation is not easy and sometimes very uncomfortable and sometimes very emotional,and#8221; Livak said. and#8220;But sometimes it requires the community to buy into the vision that we have for improving our entire school district and getting our kids all performing the same.and#8221;