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Zoning plan for Spanish Springs elementary schools under review
by Garrett Valenzuela
Nov 28, 2012 | 4094 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune photo by Garrett Valenzuela -- Sepulveda Elementary School is one of six Spanish Springs area elementary schools that will be affected by a proposed realignment of the school zones. The Washoe County School District Board of Trustees will vote on the proposition Dec. 11 at Brown Elementary School in Reno.
Tribune photo by Garrett Valenzuela -- Sepulveda Elementary School is one of six Spanish Springs area elementary schools that will be affected by a proposed realignment of the school zones. The Washoe County School District Board of Trustees will vote on the proposition Dec. 11 at Brown Elementary School in Reno.
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Tuesday evening’s meeting of the Washoe County School District Board of Trustees gave its members plenty to think about after the conclusion of a zoning realignment proposal for the Spanish Springs area.

Six elementary schools in Spanish Springs are up for realignment should the board approve the proposal during its Dec. 11 meeting. Spanish Springs, Van Gorder, Taylor, Beasley, Hall and Sepulveda elementary schools will experience changes in the amount of children attending and a possible removal from the multi-track year-round schedule.

The school district began exploring all options for realignment in February after forming a 17-member committee, comprised of two parents from each of the six schools and a few other community members, which held nine meetings from February to October. The committee then voted unanimously on the realignment proposal presented to the board Tuesday.

“We tasked this committee to think globally about this realignment,” said Hank Vanderbeek, a consultant during the project. “At points during the process we thought we were never going to get there, but this group understood the complexities and considered every possibility.”

The new zoning would divide the entire area into five zones: Area 1 would send about 83 students currently zoned for Spanish Springs Elementary to Taylor Elementary; Area 2 would send about 29 Spanish Springs Elementary students to Hall Elementary; Area 3 would move about 19 Sepulveda Elementary students to Hall Elementary; Area 4 would send about 47 Spanish Springs Elementary students to Sepulveda Elementary; Area 5 would move about 130 students from Spanish Springs Elementary to Van Gorder Elementary.

“The new alignment would bring the schools into much better balance than they are currently at,” School Planner Randy Baxley said. “It will address the goal to balance the capacity of all the schools and brings them within 5 percent of each other.”

The realignment would also approve the relocation of a portable classroom from Taylor Elementary to Spanish Springs Elementary at a cost of $120,000. Mark Stanton, chief capital projects officer, said purchasing a new unit would cost about $300,000 and that the capital projects fund does not have the budget for that option.

According to the presentation given Tuesday, the realignment would save the Washoe County School District about $30,000 per year in terms of operations and staffing for the schools and transportation costs would go unaffected. In terms of a five-year projection, the realignment would be enough to bring all six schools below the multi-track year-round calendar.

“(The Spanish Springs) community is very dense and is much larger than average school zones,” Superintendent Pedro Martinez said.

Parents and school employees voiced their opinions to the board Tuesday, following the presentation, the majority of them in favor of the rezoning. One parent said many parents are “stuck hating the multi-track system,” and added if there was any way to remove it those steps should be taken.

Prim Walters, principal of Spanish Springs Elementary, said the realignment may seem like “a Band-Aid solution and not a perfect fix,” but said the realignment may be the next best step.

“The bottom line is we have to get off multi-track. The families and the kids are suffering for it,” Walters said. “It would be a difficult thing to do to have over 800 kids in our schools.”

Jen Van Tress, principal at Van Gorder Elementary, said the connection between Spanish Springs Elementary and Van Gorder Elementary is strong due to constant collaboration between the two principals. She said their partnership would ensure a smooth rezoning process.

“We want to make sure those families know we are there to support them and we will do anything we can to make sure this happens,” Van Tress said. “It is in the best interest of all of our families. It may be a fringe benefit but getting off the multi-track is part of (WCSD’s) Strategic Plan and I think that is extremely important for us to remember as well.”

If the rezoning is agreed upon by the Board of Trustees, some parents will be transporting their students to new schools next year. One parent told the board she wouldn’t mind moving to a new school because the “top-quality schools will offer a great place” for her child. Another parent, who worked on the realignment committee, said “it would be great for every kid to go to their neighborhood school,” but said lines have to be drawn to get schools away from the year-round calendar.

The board will vote on the realignment proposal on Dec. 11 at Brown Elementary School in Reno. The discussion and voting will begin after 5:30 p.m.

For more information on the rezoning plans for Spanish Springs schools, visit www.washoe.k12.nv.us/trustees and click on the “Board Meetings Archive” link. There you will find a link to “2012” and from there a link to “Nov. 27 Regular Meeting.” Open the PDF version of the “Informational Packet” and scroll to agenda item 8.01.
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