Administrators likely to merge NU Tech and Silver Springs
The students share a campus along Park Avenue.
They break bread together over breakfast and lunch, and they share the same fields and gymnasium. They often play on the same sports teams.
But despite the commonalities, students at Silver Springs High School and NU Tech are, by definition, part of separate institutions.
At a March 11 Nevada Joint Union High School District Board meeting, administrators discussed how they want to change that. Now — despite how the coronavirus is upending normal school dynamics — Silver Springs Assistant Principal Scott Mikal-Heine and Principal Marty Mathiesen plan to fold NU Tech into Silver Springs by the next school year.
The change doesn’t require a vote from the school district board, according to district Superintendent Brett McFadden, who spoke at the March board meeting. Rather, forms detailing the change simply need to be submitted to, and approved by, the California Department of Education.
According to current estimates from administrators, no changes to staffing or additional funding would be needed for the transition.
“I’m really proud of these guys,” said district board member Jim Hinman at the board meeting. “I’m all for it. We should be excited.”
While administrators believe the change will be better for everyone, there are some distinctions between the two learning institutions. NU Tech is a directive studies program, consisting of about 46 students, in 11th and 12th grades. The school specifically helps students struggling academically, but who may not have a disciplinary issue, said Mikal-Heine. Silver Springs, by contrast, is a continuation high school, consisting of 192 students who have access to a broader array of classes.
The biggest change, and benefits, from the merger will occur for NU Tech students, explained Mikal-Heine at the board meeting.
“Now they’re going to have access to counselors, field trips — all the things that they’ve never had before,” he said. Easing access to more classes for NU Tech students is also a benefit.
Currently, said Mikal-Heine, NU Tech students can take classes at Silver Springs, but they must dual enroll in order to do so, adding unnecessary bureaucracy for students and administrators.
“Why are we adding this complication when students are on this campus?” asked Mikal-Heine rhetorically.
The major problem presented to NU Tech in the transition: It will no longer feel like an intimate family, according to the Silver Springs assistant principal.
Despite that drawback, however, it’s believed by district board members and administrators alike that the benefits are too strong to ignore.
One thing that won’t be changing at Silver Springs is the school logo, according to McFadden. The reason: The district recently paid to improve the school’s gym, leaving an image of a panther on it.
To contact Staff Writer Sam Corey, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4219.
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