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December 20, 2014

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Looking in on: education:

Parents at 11 schools opt for stricter dress code

Board expected to sign off on voting results at Thursday meeting

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SAM MORRIS / LAS VEGAS SUN file

Approved apparel items available to Vanderberg Elementary students hang in the school office in June 2003. At all schools, the School District bans baseball caps, oversized jeans, midriff-baring shirts and skimpy tops, but parents at some schools choose to have an even stricter set of rules.

The votes are in, and students at 11 Clark County schools will face a stricter dress code when classes resume in August.

In 2005 the Clark County School Board began allowing the stricter guidelines — provided that families were surveyed and at least 55 percent of the returned ballots favored the change. Schools are required to conduct a new survey every four years.

The board is expected to accept the latest survey results and give final approval at Thursday’s meeting.

The district has long banned certain items of clothing, including baseball caps, oversized jeans, midriff-baring shirts and spaghetti-strap tops. The more restrictive dress code, called “Standard Student Attire,” allows individual campuses to limit colors and fabrics.

The total number of returned ballots ranged from 24 at Fitzgerald Elementary (with 75 percent voting for the more restrictive code) to 410 at Cadwallader Middle School (with 60 percent voting in favor).

The low threshold needed to approve the change — which can affect thousands of students — rankles some critics, including the ACLU of Nevada.

There’s little hard evidence that school uniforms have a direct effect on student achievement, although educators say the policy has proved useful as part of a larger approach to improving a school’s environment.

In addition to Fitzgerald and Cadwallader, the schools expected to follow Standard Student Attire for the 2009-10 academic year are Hayden, Claude Perkins, Jydstrup, Reedom and Steele elementary schools; Browne Junior High School and Fremont Middle School; Sunrise Mountain High School; and Veterans Tribute Career and Technical Academy.

•••

For the first time since 2001, Clark County teachers won’t receive an across-the-board pay raise authorized by the Legislature.

The School Board is expected Thursday to ratify a one-year agreement with the Clark County Education Association, which represents the district’s 18,000 teachers and other licensed personnel.

The agreement calls for continued “step increases” — pay raises based on longevity and educational attainment. About 6,000 licensed personnel who have reached the top of the pay scale will not receive a salary bump this year.

The raises typically authorized by lawmakers, which are sometimes characterized as a “cost of living” increase, usually range from 2 percent to 4 percent. But this year’s Legislature cut education funding by the equivalent of a 6 percent pay cut for teachers, and left it for districts to reconcile the budget shortfall. Clark County opted for cuts to central administration, elimination of several costly programs and reduced funding for individual campuses, instead of trimming teacher pay.

Some media outlets have reported that the teachers union is “forgoing” a cost-of-living increase — but since there were never plans for an increase, Jasonek said, there was nothing to forgo.

The district eliminated about 600 licensed personnel positions for the upcoming academic year. All but 16 of those people have found other district jobs.

•••

More than 800 Clark County seniors finished their required coursework but failed one or more sections of the state’s high school proficiency exam, which means they received certificates of attendance rather than diplomas at this year’s graduation ceremonies.

But they get one more shot — on the district’s dime — to try again for a regular diploma.

In advance of the July proficiency exam, the district is offering free tutoring sessions to all students.

The district has an added incentive to help this year’s seniors pass next month, because those who do will be counted toward this year’s graduation rate. Former students who pass the test at a later date will count as Adult Education graduates, and not members of the class of 2009.

The tutoring sessions will be offered at high schools throughout the valley. More information is available at ccsd.net or by calling 855-9771.

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