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September 22, 2014

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SCHOOLS:

Changes in zoning could jeopardize school’s federal funding

If too many higher-income students are moved to Robert Taylor Elementary, it could lose Title I status

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Frances Vanderploeg

Several murals grace the walls of Robert Taylor Elementary School courtesy of Henderson artist Shawn Ealy, who attended at the original campus. In the library, the library specialist requested a bright, colorful theme set off by the centerpiece cartoon sun and book. Outside the window is a patriotic mural Ealy painted in the courtyard.

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A public meeting on attendance zone for schools in the Southeast Region will be held 6 p.m. Jan. 12 at Foothill High School, 800 College Drive. For proposed zoning maps and more information, go to azac.ccsd.net.

If Robert Taylor Elementary School is rezoned next year, it could lose its Title I status, which brings extra money to help poor and minority children.

The Clark County School District's zoning commission is looking at moving students from Sue Morrow and C.T. Sewell elementary schools to Taylor, which recently went through a renovation that gave it more space. The new buildings have left Taylor 37 percent below its capacity.

The School Board has instructed the Attendance Zone Advisory Commission, which recommends zoning changes, to fill all empty seats before the School District looks into a new bond issue in 2010.

To fill those seats, the commission is considering drawing a few students from Sewell and the rest from Morrow. Because median income of families at Morrow is a little higher than those at Taylor, the move could potentially drop Taylor from the Title I list.

It is already a close call at Taylor, Principal Janet Dobry said.

"We were grandfathered in this year because we had been Title I last year," Dobry said. "We didn't actually qualify."

The school in December qualified for Title I for next year, but Dobry worried that even a slightly higher income level would drop the school from the list for federal aid in 2010.

If that happened, the computers, electronic teaching devices and other benefits received through Title I would be physically removed from the campus.

Two attendance zone proposals are being considered. The first would move 61 students from Morrow and 55 students from Sewell to Taylor. The second would move 142 students from Morrow to Taylor and leave Sewell students where they are.

Morrow is 5 percent over capacity, a number that concerns the commission because the school is already year-round. Sewell is 11 percent over.

The commission may use a combination of the two proposals, Rick Baldwin, coordinator for the demographics and zoning department, said. However, there were no options to take more than 55 students from Sewell to prevent children from having to cross Lake Mead Parkway or keep from splitting a neighborhood.

If Morrow students are zoned for Taylor, it doesn't mean they would immediately have to attend. Because it is a Title I school and also on the No Child Left Behind needs improvement list, parents will have the option of sending children zoned for Taylor to Morrow or John Dooley Elementary School.

School District officials hope that doesn't happen, Baldwin said.

"It would still leave (Morrow) overcrowded, which would defeat the purpose," Baldwin said. "We'd be back here next year looking to rezone them again."

Henderson parents are encouraged to attend a Jan. 12 public input meeting at Foothill High School to voice any concerns they may have. Input is being heard for the three elementary schools as well as Coronado, Foothill, Green Valley, Liberty and Silverado high schools.

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

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