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April 18, 2014

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EDUCATION:

School boundaries to be shuffled to ease crowding

Maps

Note: Current boundaries are outlined in dark blue in the high school scenarios and orange in the elementary scenarios. Proposed boundaries are colored.

A Clark County School District panel agreed Tuesday to move forward with two proposals that would move up to 450 students from Palo Verde High School to Bonanza High School beginning next school year.

Beginning in January, community meetings will be held by the Attendance Zone Advisory Commission to decide which proposal, or which parts of the proposals, should be given to the School Board in March as a final recommendation for rezoning.

Before the School District's official "count day," in which it obtains an audited count of how many students are at each school, Bonanza was an estimated 9 percent under capacity. Surrounding schools to the northwest are over capacity, with Palo Verde and Cimarron-Memorial each at an estimated 14 percent over, and Centennial at an estimated 17 percent over. The school district hopes to fill all empty seats by equalizing enrollments prior to seeking voter approval to build additional schools.

A Career and Technical Academy will open in 2009, which is expected to provide slight relief to Palo Verde. However, the commission expects Cimarron and Centennial will not see relief until a new school is built in the area.

The first possibility moving forward would move Palo Verde students west of Hualapai Way and south of Sahara Drive to Bonanza. Commission members said it was probably the most expensive idea, partially because of added bus routes, but it had some benefits, such as feeder school alignment.

The second proposal, an idea suggested by a group of Palo Verde parents, would move 450 students living north of Westcliff Drive, west of Buffalo Drive, north of Alta Drive and east of Durango Drive from Palo Verde to Bonanza.

Sue Lopez, one of the parents responsible for the idea, said it would save thousands of dollars compared to the other two suggestions offered at the time, partially because those students are currently eligible for bus service to Palo Verde and, if moved to Bonanza, would be within walking distance.

Commission members acknowledged it would save money. However, it would put Bonanza at 3,100 students living in its zone and Palo Verde at 3,198 students. These are numbers Barbara Moody, vice chairwoman of the commission, isn't comfortable with, she said.

"Bonanza is a smaller, older school with a much lower capacity," she said. "It also puts us in the range we don't like, in that only 100 kids would go to high school together from Johnson (Junior High School)."

Fred Scharar, who has a daughter at Palo Verde and a son at Victoria Fertitta Middle School, said he was in favor of the parent-produced suggestion.

"The biggest concern I have is the sense of community," he said. "Being able to be a part of the neighborhood really gets lost in scenario one and two."

Other schools up for change Tuesday included 13 elementary schools: Dean LaMar Allen, James Bilbray, Eileen Conners, Marshall Darnell, Ruthe Deskin, Dorothy Eisenberg, Marc Kahre, Doris Reed, Betsy Rhodes, William and Mary Scherkenback, Sheila Tarr, Sandra Thompson and R.E. Tobler elementary schools.

The schools were being looked at to fill vacancies at schools under capacity and also populate Henry Bozarth Elementary School, southwest of North Egan Crest Drive and West Farm Road, scheduled to open in 2009.

Near Summerlin, Eisenberg and Kahre, which share a zoning boundary, were an estimated 14 percent under capacity, Tarr was an estimated 11 percent under and Tobler was an estimated 23 percent under. The other schools were over capacity by at least 9 percent, some as much as 29 percent.

The commission voted to move the following suggestions forward as proposals:

-- The first would move Reed students living north of Cheyenne Avenue to Tobler; Tobler students living north of Alexander to Eisenberg/Kahre; Deskin students living south of Craig Road and east of North Tenaya Way would move to Eisenberg/Kahre; Conners students living east of the Las Vegas Beltway and north of Alexander would move to Tarr; Allen students living north of the Las Vegas Beltway would move to Darnell; Thompson students living south of Elkhorn would move to Darnell; the majority of Darnell students living north and west of the Las Vegas Beltway would move to Bozarth; and Rhodes students living in the northwest corner of Rhodes would move to Bilbray/Scherkenbach.

-- The second would move Reed students north of Cheyenne and west of Michael to Tobler; Tobler students north of Alexander to Eisenberg/Kahre; Deskin students living east of Tenaya would move to Eisenberg and Kahre; Conners students living east of the Las Vegas Beltway and south of Gowan would move to Tarr; Allen students living north of the Las Vegas Beltway would move to Darnell; the majority of Darnell students living north and west of the Las Vegas Beltway and Thompson students north of Grand Teton would attend Bozarth; and Rhodes students south of Elkhorn and west of Cimarron would attend Thompson.

-- The third is the same as the second, except that the Tobler students north of Alexander would move to Deskin; Deskin students living south of Craig and west of Tenaya would move to Eisenberg/Kahre; Allen students west of Durango Drive would move to Tarr; Conners would not be affected; Thompson students living north of Grand Teton would not be affected; and Rhodes would not be affected.

Ken Ligon, principal at Eisenberg, said there are currently 1,200 students attending Eisenberg and Kahre, which leaves a couple of classrooms available. If the suggestion moving students south of Craig and west of Tenaya to Eisenberg/Kahre was chosen, it would push the schools closer to their maximum, he said. He showed his support for that suggestion, noting the flow of the zones and bus routes made more sense.

Gwen Campbell, parent of a Tobler student, said she also supports that idea, partially because it keeps Tobler at the lowest student population, compared to the other possibilities.

"Some of these others bring us close to capacity or over capacity," she said. "We're not interested in portables, we're not interested in being crowded."

The commission members will begin visiting area schools after winter break to hear more from the communities affected by the potential changes.

Frances Vanderploeg can be reached at 990-2660 or [email protected].

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