Counting Kids

By: Alana Adams
By: Alana Adams

The official count for Jacks Valley Elementary, in Douglas County, is at 528 students... which, is just about 40 students short of their projection for the year.
Pam Gilmartin, the principal, says she's been at the school, and in the area, for the last 8 years.
Maintaining the student population and keeping projections on track are key to a teacher's stability.
"When I first started here we were in the 400s and that was a principal in 1998. So, we've actually had growth, but then we kind of stagnated in the last three years.... there's just not been much growth in the area. Most of the people moving in around here are senior citizens."
Still, she says she's seen the average home cost of about 400-thousand dollars keep teachers from staying or moving in.
"I lost a teacher from Washington state this summer... she signed the contract, visited the area and started shopping for homes and backed out."
She says the district projects a loss of 140 students this year, and Carson City schools expect 200 less students... while Lyon County is seeing only growth.
But, that growth is exactly why some teachers and students are looking at other options.
Keith Martin taught in Lyon County for ten years, when he decided the increased attention given to students at charter schools was more appealing.
He now teaches social studies at Silver State High School, in Carson City.
"I think they're more likely to ask for help because it's a one-on-one. Not raising a hand with 20 classmates and feeling they may be embarrassed by asking a question."
Silver State High School is actually having to cap enrollment at 225 students this year and will allow 75 more students next year.
Maggi Gebhardt, a senior at Silver State, says this was her last and only option... and, it's been a great decision.
"School's hard and there's a lot of work involved with school. But, it's a lot easier because they work with you more. The nice thing is we only have to come once a week. So, we can have full-time jobs, we can... there are kids here who have kids of their own."

Washoe County officials will meet with the trustees Monday night to discuss the extreme shortfall for enrollment this year and how it will affect jobs and schools.
We will continue to update you on this story throughout next week.


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