Las Vegas Sun

October 30, 2014

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SCHOOLS:

Several attendance zoning options still on the table

School Board says no to changing boundaries only for future students

High school students in the Clark County School District will not have the option of phasing as an alternative to being rezoned next school year. Phasing would have allowed students already attending a school to remain at that school, while new students would have to abide by boundary changes.

The School Board did agree in a meeting Thursday night that the Attendance Zone Advisory Commission, which is in charge of determining new boundaries and making recommendations to the School Board, could come back and recommend an alternative option parents could take advantage of as soon as next school year.

Coronado and Liberty high schools, both in Henderson, are the two which sparked Board Member Deanna Wright, who represents Boulder City and Henderson, to bring up the discussion. Her older son attends Coronado but is not affected by the commission's recommendation.

She has received several e-mails and phone calls from parents expressing interest in the option of phasing, she said.

It has also been discussed at most of the recent meetings of the zoning commission, though only one family and one father attended Thursday's meeting to provide public input.

Phasing itself is something the board members didn't feel comfortable doing without first putting together a committee to study the issue. That was done last year at the request of Board Member Carolyn Edwards, who represents Silverado Ranch and southeast Las Vegas, leading to the approval of a pilot phasing program at the middle school level. The commission has considered using that option for the first time next year in the rezoning of Sig Rogich and Walter Johnson middle schools.

Wright said she was pleased the issue would be looked at next year, but thought there should be a more immediate option as well.

"Personally, I don't think it's fair to say, 'Thanks for bringing it up and we're going to look at it, but you still get zoned out,'" she said. "I just really do not feel good about leaving here without some kind of resolve that we are going to at least attempt something for this year."

Because of open meeting laws, the School Board members could not discuss any of the other options as the agenda item addressed only phasing. They did confirm, though, the commission has the ability to bring alternative options to the School Board as part of its recommendation, and the board will be able to consider those options.

One possible example shared by Sharon Dattoli, director of demographics and zoning, is the option of allowing Coronado High School students to stay put if other students want to transfer to Liberty. It would have to be an even trade, though, she said. Meaning, if only two students showed interest in transferring to Liberty, only two students would be allowed to remain at Coronado.

She said this option is one some students would be interested in because there have been parent comments that their children don't have a chance to play on the sports teams or in band because there are too many students. If there was a board-approved option for those students to attend another school, they could play sports, Dattoli said.

If that same student were to get a zone variance to another school, there would be some limits to the level they could play at, such as keeping them off the varsity team.

Options have been successful when tried in the past, Dattoli said, meaning few students chose the option and most did move to the new school. In the 2003-2004 school year, students were given the option to remain at Coronado, built two years prior, or go to Liberty, a new school. Only three students took the option and remained at Coronado, she said.

The zoning commission will be finalizing its recommendations at a meeting next Thursday. At that time, Dattoli said, the members will probably go through each area to see if an option seems appropriate for any of the other schools, not just those in Henderson.

One caveat of the options is that no extra costs can be incurred, so if an option is recommended for Coronado, students who choose to remain there would have to provide their own transportation.

Once the commission agrees on its recommendations, they will need to be approved by the School Board.

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

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