Monday, Feb. 9, 2009 | 12:20 p.m.
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Map: Clark County School District Empowerment Schools
The principal at Ethel W. Staton Elementary School already had an idea of how she would spend an extra $50,000 each year: improving science and technology at her school.
Now, she can make that a reality.
Staton Elementary, Chaparral High School and Wendell Williams Elementary School were announced this morning as the latest additions to the empowerment school program.
As empowerment schools, the three newest will share in benefits 14 schools already receive: flexibility in governance, budget, staffing, instruction and time.
In addition, empowerment schools are partnered with community organizations and promised three years of extra money.
"We all have challenges," Staton Principal Marty Gardner said. "This gives us a chance to think outside the box."
A $450,000 grant from Nevada Women's Philanthropy allowed the Clark County School District to expand the program this year in the face of budget cuts. The money will be distributed to the three schools during the next three years.
The philanthropy group had a hand in choosing the three schools from 14 applicants. The group was looking for three schools that provided it a variety of grade levels and various levels of success, President Dana Lee said. Mostly, though, members wanted to see dynamic principals and positive leaders, she said.
"It really starts with the leadership," Lee said.
In touring the schools, Lee was impressed with how well each school had already done with what it had, she said, whether that was top-of-the-line equipment and a modern building, as Staton does, or minimal equipment and an older building, like Chaparral.
"When you see what can be done … it fills us with so much hope," she said.
After the three-year commitment, additional funds will be considered based on the school's success rate.
In 2007, eight of the 14 existing empowerment schools made adequate yearly progress as required by the No Child Left Behind Act, and three were on the watch list, meaning they made adequate yearly progress in 2006 but failed to do so the following year. Three have failed to do so for at least two years.
Standards were raised to make adequate yearly progress in 2007 by up to 11 percent.
School Superintendent Walt Rulffes noted test scores are only one part of determining if a school is successful in the empowerment program. Other factors they look at include parent satisfaction, student performance, student attendance and discipline.
Chaparral High School has seen better days.
Once among the top performing schools in the Clark County School District, Chaparral High is undergoing changes to counter dismal test scores and the lowest graduation rate in the district.
The campus located near East Flamingo Road and U.S. 95 is one of five turnaround schools not meeting the expectations outlined in No Child Left Behind.
Chaparral is now looking to clean up its reputation, touching every aspect of the school from restrooms to test scores.
Changes weren’t received well by students who openly protested the cuts to faculty and the new order that banned the use of cell phones and music players during the school day.
Under stricter rules, tardy students are locked out of classrooms, bathroom breaks during class time aren’t allowed and the lunch hour was pushed back to 1:40 p.m.
Superintendent Dwight Jones told students he’s not settling for half successes.
“Right now, 50 percent of the kids in this school don’t graduate high school. Is that acceptable to you? Think about that. Right now, some of the friends that you’re with aren’t going to graduate. Is that OK? That’s unacceptable to me. I think you guys ought to kick all of us out.”
- Year built:
- Principal (Year Hired):
- David Wilson (2011)
- Approximately 2,250
- School Report Card:
Compiled by Gregan Wingert
Frances Vanderploeg can be reached at 990-2660 or firstname.lastname@example.org.