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April 16, 2014

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School zoning proposals prompt heated debate

Zoning commission to vote on attendance changes for Henderson schools

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Mona Shield Payne / Special to the Home News

Foothill parent Richie Waitkus requests “no change” be made to attendance zoning boundaries. Sharon Dattoli, right, director of demographics and zoning for the Attendance Zone Advisory Commission, listens during Monday’s meeting at Foothill High School. Zoning proposals under consideration could mean Waitkus would have one child attending Coronado and one attending Foothill.

School zoning

Coronado sophomores Emily Brown, left, and Caitlin Trost, right, who live in the Launch slideshow »

Meeting

The zoning commission is expected to make its decision on a final recommendation during a meeting Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. at the Edward A. Greer Education Center board room, 2832 E. Flamingo Road.

Hundreds of Henderson parents and a few high school students were at Foothill High School Monday night to voice opinions on the school district's attendance zoning proposals for elementary and high schools.

For more than a month, members of the Clark County School District Attendance Zone Advisory Commission have been looking at possibly changing school boundaries for Sue Morrow, C.T. Sewell and Robert Taylor elementary schools. Changes to the zoning boundaries for Coronado, Foothill, Green Valley, Liberty and Silverado high schools are also on the table.

The commission will decide at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday which proposals or combination of proposals will be accepted as recommendations. Those recommendations will be presented to the School Board Feb. 24 and March 3.

Two proposals are being considered for each area.

For elementary schools, the first proposal would move 55 students living in Victory Village Apartments from Sewell to Taylor, and the 61 students living west of Palo Verde Drive from Morrow to Taylor.

The second would move the same Morrow students, plus 81 students living south of Dooley Drive and west of Pueblo Boulevard.

At the high school level, the first proposal would move Coronado students living north of the Las Vegas Beltway, between Green Valley Parkway and Stephanie Street, to Green Valley; any future Coronado students living west of the Henderson Executive Airport to Liberty (currently there are none); Coronado students living in Anthem, excluding Anthem Country Club, would move to Liberty; and Foothill students living east of Roma Hills, southeast of Horizon Ridge Parkway, east of Stephanie Street and south of the Las Vegas Beltway, to Coronado.

The second option would move Silverado students living south of Robindale Road, west of Bermuda Road, south of Windmill Parkway, west of Pollock Drive and north of Pebble Road to Liberty; and Coronado students living north of the Las Vegas Beltway and west of Green Valley Parkway to Silverado.

Those who spoke at the meeting asked mostly for one thing: No change.

"Maybe the solution is, we're not ready to vote on one or the other," Roshan Raja said about the high school proposals.

Raja, who lives near the Anthem Highlands border, could see his child move from Coronado to Liberty. He had moved around a lot as a student, he said, and didn't want his child to do the same.

"I moved here from California for one thing: to purchase a home and be part of a community," he said.

A few parents also had concerns about having two children at different high schools. Students who are juniors this year are allowed to stay at the high school they're currently attending to finish their senior year.

Debra Cohen, a Coronado parent, and Richie Waitkus, a Foothill parent, shared that concern.

"My kids are best friends," Cohen said, noting one would be a senior at Coronado and one a sophomore at Silverado.

Waitkus noted his family had gone through several changes in elementary and middle school before ending up at Foothill. His children love the school now, and splitting them up wouldn't be healthy, he said.

"My kids would be going to different high schools in opposite directions," he said. "I don't see how that could possibly benefit a family situation."

Multiple high school students spoke on their own behalf.

"It's nice that all of the parents speak for us, but I think it has a stronger impact if we speak for ourselves," Coronado student Nikki Tatalovich, 15, said.

Tatalovich likened her school to the perfect prom dress: There will always be a special one that is perfect, she said. For her, that school is Coronado. The forensics program is a cornerstone of her life, and she feels like the program at her current school is far superior to the alternatives, she said.

Nicole Boman, a sophomore at Coronado, said she is concerned about how her future will progress if she changes schools. She said she's looking to earn a leadership scholarship and doesn't think that will happen if she changes schools.

"I won't have a chance of being voted onto student council at Silverado because no one will know me there," she said.

The few parents who voiced concerns about elementary school proposals were mostly from Sewell. Those who spoke up were from the Victory Village apartment complex, and they don't want to move.

They said they liked having their children at Sewell, an empowerment school, and felt the commission was targeting apartment complexes. The proposed move would put their children at Taylor, which is a Title I school.

"My child is at an empowerment school and all the sudden she has to be transferred?" parent Jocelyn Pereira said. "I don't understand why you're targeting the apartments."

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

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