With several new schools opening next fall, Washoe County School District trustees decided unanimously Tuesday that three elementary schools on the year-round calendar would move back to the balanced calendar starting next fall.
Prior to board discussion and presentation from district staff, president Katy Simon Holland called the calendar conversion a “very, very happy occasion.”
Minimal public comment was voiced on either side of the issue.
Favorable comments about the year-round calendar included less traffic and more manageable drop-off and pick-up. Concern was also expressed that children on zoning variances because of the multitrack calendar could return, leaving schools just as crowded as they are now.
Negatives about the year-round calendar included it being a challenge to plan vacations if families had children in elementary and secondary school. Communication issues involving parent conference week and attendance days for special occasions that vary from the traditional calendar were also cited.
Double Diamond, Alice Smith and Spanish Springs elementary schools were moved to the year-round calendar for the 2017-18 school year to address growth and crowding since they were projected then to be at 120 percent capacity.
- Double Diamond Elementary serves children through fifth grade and has a base capacity of 695 students with a current enrollment of 867. Projections show enrollment decreasing to 585 next fall when nearby Poulakidas Elementary School is scheduled to open.
- Smith Elementary has 764 students and currently serves children through sixth grade and enrollment is expected to remain steady next fall. Its base capacity is 715. Almost 2 years ago, the school requested to go year-round. Most its sixth graders will eventually be moved to O’Brien Middle School, district officials said.
- Spanish Springs Elementary serves students through sixth grade. It has a base capacity of 739 and a current enrollment of 871. Projections show enrollment decreasing to 766 next fall when sixth graders are relocated to either Shaw Middle School or the new Sky Ranch Middle School, depending on their address. Enrollment is expected to decrease again in fall 2020 to 662 when a new elementary school opens in the Kiley Ranch area.
Trustee John Mayer said staff at the three schools went “above and beyond the call of duty” the past 2 years.
“I’ve never heard a whimper from anybody who said, ‘Oh, this is terrible,’ or ‘Get me off of this or I’ll quit,’” Mayer said. “They’ve taken the bull by the horns and they’ve made a success out of a not successful type of environment.”
Multi-track calendars increase a school’s capacity by 25 percent as it operates with staggered break times for four tracks of students. The operating cost per year-round school is an additional $250,000 to $300,000 annually.
The year-round calendar has 15 fewer school days per year but each school day is 30 minutes longer. Additionally, there’s no fall break, winter break is two weeks instead of three weeks, spring break is one week instead of two weeks, and there are no early release Wednesdays.
Classes countywide start Aug. 12, 2019.