Many changes for students come with new school year |

Many changes for students come with new school year

I was recently reminded how the title of my column dates me. We don’t use chalk in classrooms anymore only white boards and computer projectors. I don’t care. I still like the title and it reminds me of the days I had chalk all over me at the end of my teaching day. Those were the good ole days!

The opening of school has been very smooth. Our numbers continue to be lower than last year and are down 183 students as we start the second week of school. The schools that have an increase in attendance this year are Donner Trail Elementary (four), Truckee Elementary (38), Kings Beach Elementary (25) and Glenshire Elementary (11). The declining enrollment schools include Tahoe Lake Elementary (-27), Alder Creek Middle School (-48), North Tahoe Middle School (-48), Tahoe Truckee High (-74), North Tahoe High (-43) and Coldstream Alternative (-21).

Kings Beach Elementary started the year with school uniforms. It is our first school to implement uniforms, and it has been a huge success. I commend the parents and staff in making it work so well. It will be interesting to see the results over time at Kings Beach and compare the data with the research done at other schools where uniforms are required. The research indicates fewer discipline problems, improved attendance and increased academic performance as some of the advantages of school uniforms.

If you have never attended a Tahoe Truckee School Board meeting before, I invite you to attend the meeting on Sept. 20. The meetings are held at the old Sierra Mountain Middle School at 11603 Donner Pass Road in Truckee and start at 4:30 p.m. The board of trustees will be sharing their goals and how they incorporated the Education Matters Community input into the planning for the next three years.

The state’s accountability program for all of the public schools in California is titled the Academic Performance Index or API. It ranges from 100 to a maximum of 1,000. The goal is for every school and district to have an index of 800 or greater. Schools started receiving indexes in 1999 and districts in 2002. The first index for our district was 715. It has increased each year from 715 to last year’s index of 780. The score is based on how well our students perform on the California Standardized Testing. You can check out the indexes for each school by going to the California Department of Education web site at

The students at North Tahoe Middle and North Tahoe High enjoyed starting their school year in their new schools. The new building is finished and the modernization of the cafeteria, library and auditorium has begun. The work will continue throughout the year with the completion scheduled by the end of the school year.

The new gym at Truckee High is almost complete and will be open soon. New flooring was also installed throughout the main building replacing the rolls of duct tape on the old flooring. The nickname of Duct Tape High no longer applies.

The new facilities mentioned above and the many others that have occurred over the last seven years would not have been possible without the generous support of the voters in the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District. You have approved more than $100 million since 1999 for new construction and modernization projects at all of the schools in the district. Your support of the schools is both obvious and appreciated. Thank you!

Dennis Williams is superintendent of the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District.

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