< Back to Community News

Washoe County School District Considering Potential Controversial Closure of Incline Middle School

May 21, 2023 | Mary Danahey

Written and Submitted by Mary Danahey: maryd@inclineeducationfund.org

As most of you know, the Washoe County School District (WCSD) recently held 2 community meetings here in Incline to discuss their Facility Modernization Plan (FMP).  The FMP is a proposal to “guide and inform (WCSD) facility use and capital investment decisions for the next 5-10 years”. The first meeting became quite heated when the plan presented the potential closure of Incline Middle School due to declining enrollment. The second meeting was meant to be a listening opportunity for the district to hear our community’s concerns and assure us that no decisions have yet been made.  The take-away was that WCSD would put together and share a list of FAQ’s by the end of the school year. 

School enrollment is a complicated matter that is plaguing many school districts across the country. It’s a convoluted mix of national and local trends that include declining birth rates, the impacts of the pandemic, recent inflationary concerns, and for us here in Tahoe, a continuing struggle with local housing issues.

While we all understand that you can’t continue to run a business if your customer base is shrinking, we also know that schools can’t and shouldn’t always be run like a business. There are human minds at stake.

We (IEF) believe consolidation of our schools is short-sighted and could have a detrimental impact on our kids and our community for a number of reasons.

1. Combining preteens and high schoolers is unwise and unhealthy.

Most parents would agree that putting pre-teens on a campus with older, more physically mature teenagers can create a negative environment for the academic and social development of both groups of students. Developing adolescents are just learning how to become independent and are highly impressionable. They do not need the distractions created by high school students who are juggling their own new-found independence. 

2. More local, reliable data is needed.

While national data can paint an overall picture of school trends, it is imperative to understand how collecting and using that data to make decisions can impact an entire community and the education of its children. Especially when those decisions could potentially create negative outcomes for students, families and teachers.

Many long-time Incline residents point to previous population fluctuations and believe that the current trends may very well reverse themselves over the next several years. In fact, if one looks at the current waiting lists at local preschools, it seems that it would be short-sighted to close IMS when space might very well be needed again in the near future. 

Additionally, Incline Village, like many other US resort communities, has seen an influx of new, younger residents over the past three years. At the same time, however, with inflation at its highest peak since the early 1980’s, and the aforementioned housing crunch here in the Tahoe basin, many residents were forced to move ‘down the hill’ and either change jobs or endure a lengthy commute. Again, it’s a complicated issue that needs accurate data.

3. IEF believes that our schools are well positioned to attract new students 

Incline Education Fund has been working closely with each of our schools to create a K12 STEM Pathway. In the last 2 years, we have funded the IES Makerspace, the IMS Robotics program, and the IHS Engineering and Entrepreneurship program. Last month, both Incline Elementary and Incline High Schools were awarded the prestigious Nevada Governor’s STEM School Designation for those programs and are now considered models for schools around the state.  IEF is working to get Incline Middle School added to this prestigious group next year (their robotics program was just launched this year). This would make the Incline schools the ONLY K12 STEM Pathway in the state (see related article on the OSIT STEM award). 

Additionally, we are funding a number of other unique programs, including: 

-academic support to help struggling students regain covid learning losses

-the Exploratory program at IMS which gives students an opportunity to explore areas of interest and re-engage them in the learning process

-a resiliency building program at IES to help students learn how to challenge themselves and be adaptable to stressors

-college and career prep programs 

In short, Incline Schools deliver an excellent education.

With the support of the Incline community, we believe that the current enrollment decline can be reversed and that we can prevent WCSD from moving forward in their closure plans.  WCSD has not made any final decisions regarding our schools yet, but it will take continued community involvement to prevent a consolidation of some sort. 

Please read the weekly SnapShot and check the IVCBA event calendar for up-to-date information regarding our schools, or contact Mary Danahey at:  maryd@inclineeducationfund.org

Related Blog Posts

Sign up for our weekly SnapShot newsletter