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Nye trustees delay vote to close Duckwater School

TONOPAH Nye County School District trustees have delayed a vote that would close the remote Duckwater School in the northeastern part of the county after one trustee said Thursday night she wants to personally hear from students, their families and others in the tight-knit community before reaching any decision to shutter the facility. 

“I don’t feel comfortable making such a vote on a drastic decision … without meeting them myself,” said trustee Chelsy Fischer on Thursday at a board meeting in Tonopah just before the leaders were scheduled to vote on a measure that would close the K-8 school amid falling enrollment.

Chelsy Fischer
Chelsy Fischer

Only two students are projected to enroll there next fall, according to district officials, who say they both plan to transfer to the town’s Duckwater Shoshone School, which serves a handful of tribal students who live on the surrounding native lands.

“There’s just not enough kids there to keep the school open,” Ray Ritchie, chief operating officer for the school district said Thursday.

At its peak in the 2000s, Duckwater School provided public education for as many as 22 kindergarten to eighth-grade students in the area, but only five are currently enrolled there.

District officials reportedly met with 17 stakeholders at the school in February after posting open invitations to talk about what closing the facility would mean for the community of about 100 residents, depending on the season.

“It was an open discussion with the group, as many people shared their concerns and understanding of what it takes to keep a school open,” Nye County Assistant Superintendent Kyle Lindberg told the Pahrump Valley Times earlier this month. “They discussed the out-of-pocket costs to run a school and they all agreed that if the possibility down the road of the population increasing, that we could possibly open it up again.”

But the logistics of reopening a school are often more difficult than closing one, said Fischer who pushed to delay the vote on the closure until at least April 27 when trustees are scheduled to meet in Duckwater School for their next regular board meeting.

“I heard the community understood why we want to close it, but not necessarily that they agree with it,” said Fischer, who asked to reconvene on the issue “next month, where we can engage with their community.”

Nye County Schools A group of Duckwater School students from 2021. Enrollment at the school has ...
Nye County Schools A group of Duckwater School students from 2021. Enrollment at the school has fallen to five and could dip to as low as two students next year, according to projections from district officials.

Contact Editor Brent Schanding at bschanding@pvtimes.com

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