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December 20, 2014

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New School Board member talks budget, attendance zones

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Mona Shield Payne / Special to the Home News

CCSD trustee Deanna Wright assures parents she will support zoning requests and budgetary concerns as their advocate during the “get to know your new trustee” meeting held at the Southeast Regional office Thursday.

Get to know your new trustee

Theresa Renner talks with trustee Deanna Wright about the importance of addressing specific issues in e-mails to the Legislature regarding budget cuts at the Launch slideshow »

Parent meetings

Parent Action Committee meetings are held the second Thursday of each month at 9:30 a.m. at Barbara and Hank Greenspun Junior High School, 140 Valle Verde Drive.

Things went a little off-track at the Clark County School District Southeast Region's first parent action committee meeting Thursday, when an intended budget discussion took a turn toward new school boundaries.

New School Board member Deanna Wright wanted to hold a parent meeting before the Legislature convened in February to talk to parents about the budget crisis and tell them what they can do to help the School District.

She was accompanied by Southeast Region Superintendent Andre Denson and Assistant Superintendents Patrice Johnson and Pat Skorkowsky.

With current suggested budget cuts, the School District is looking at losing $120 million per year for the next two years.

"We continue to be amazed, not shocked, but amazed at how well schools are doing with the funding we're giving them," Denson said. "We're at a point where we need to make a decision. Do we want to increase revenue, or lower expectations?"

Wright encouraged nearly 20 parents, who represented elementary through high school students across Henderson, to support iNVest, a statewide initiative supported by district superintendents to bring more money into education and improve student achievement, and to contact their legislators.

A list of names and contact numbers for every assemblyman and senator from Clark County was passed out to parents. The list has become a staple at any budget-related meeting in the School District since shortly after the crisis began.

Wright told parents that once legislators receive five unique e-mails or phone calls on an issue, they begin to take it more seriously. Form letters and e-mails tend to be ignored, she said.

"Basically, this meeting comes down to, I'm asking for your help," Wright said.

She asked parents to contact legislators and to sign up for e-mail alerts from the School District during the legislative session.

Mary Jo Parise-Malloy, president of Nevadans for Quality Education, told parents her organization is working on shutting down the governor's phone system and e-mail with large amounts of calls and letters.

Once the School District officials had made their budget pitch, the topic quickly changed when parents asked, "How are you going to help me with zoning?"

Some said they had moved to a certain house to ensure their children attended a specific school. In Clark County, growth has been so rapid or occurred where district officials were not expecting that it resulted in some areas being rezoned a few times in almost as many years.

Rezoning the entire district was discussed at an earlier board meeting, and the idea was brought forward at Wright's meeting as well.

That could happen, Denson said, but it would require rezoning once every four years, for example, rather than having an opportunity to look at attendance zones every year.

With the current process, if there is sudden growth in an area, district officials can move students to a different school the following year. If the entire district were rezoned at the same time, however, those schools would have to bear the brunt of that growth until the next zoning session.

Recommendations for next year's school boundaries will be reviewed by the Attendance Zone Advisory Commission Jan. 29 and up for approval by the School Board a month later.

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

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