RENO, NEV. (KRNV & Mynews4.com)-- Overcrowding in Westergard Elementary School has the Washoe County School District, a committee, and parents wanting to find ways to do a better job of assigning students to schools. The issue began last year when Westergard in Northwest Reno ended up with more students than the school district projected it would have.
WCSD Chief Capitol Projects Officer Mark Stanton tells News 4 one reason for the unforseen overcrowding was areas like Somersett saw a spike in the younger family demographic when the housing market became more affordable.
Three schools were brought into the discussion to address the issue, Westergard with the most students, Rollan Melton, and Verdi. Verdi having maybe a third of the number of students as Westergard. The district went to the drawing board and a six person committee was formed, called the Northwest Area Elementary School rezoning committee. Two people from each impacted school sit on the committee.
This year, Stanton tells News 4 steps were taken to mitigate some of the overcrowding at Westergard for the 2013-2014 school year. The school moved a GATE program for advanced students from Westergard to Melton, that which helped decrease the numbers. Then he says Westergard did a better job of using their classroom space and using team teaching for first and second grade.
Stanton says in the committee's eyes these solutions worked and that's part of why they say there is no need to rezone.
"The things that were done over the last year to not only relieve Westergard, but to offer additional programs for the Westergard students, has brought that school's enrollment down to a level comparable to other schools in the district," Stanton says.
However, the news from the committee isn't necessarily what some Northwest Reno parents wanted to hear.
"There are quite a few parents who feel like they are one disenfranchised, like they don't have a voice, and secondly that the board is going to do what they're going to do and that having that discussion or interaction isn't going to help," Rollan Melton parent Carlos Ledon says.
Ledon has two students at Rollan Melton, but they were previously at Westergard. He says his family felt despite the efforts of the teachers, the classrooms were too overcrowded and they didn't want it impacting their child's education. Hence, their move to Melton.
The discussion is not over. The committee will be presenting their information to the WCSD board of trustees on March 11th. Stanton says they expect a decision on the April 8th board meeting.
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