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September 17, 2014

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education:

School District gives green light to zoning changes

The Clark County School Board approved a zoning change Tuesday night that will move 250 children from Madeira Canyon and Anthem Highlands from Coronado High School to Liberty High in the fall.

But the board turned down options that would have allowed some students to stay at Coronado if it would not change the number of teachers needed.

Parents who attended the meeting to talk about the zone changes were unhappy after the votes.

"'I'm totally disappointed, and my house will be up for sale tomorrow," said parent Cynthia Proudfit, whose home was rezoned to Liberty. "My son will not go to Liberty. We will take a loss on our house."

Meanwhile, parents in the Roma Hills neighborhood, off Horizon Ridge Parkway, said they have been waiting for years to get their children moved from Foothill, which is eight miles from their homes, to Coronado, which is three miles away.

"I'm not happy about it," said Laura Moxley, who spoke in support of the option that would have allowed parents in Roma Hills to choose Coronado or Foothill. "For years, we have been fighting for this. We thought it was a win-win for everyone."

During the 2 1/2-hour meeting, the School Board voted on zoning changes that would have affected 17 schools across the Clark County School District.

It debated at length the idea of offering parents the eight options that would have allowed current freshmen and sophomores to choose between the new school and the old. Juniors are allowed to remain at their schools for their senior year.

Board Member Carolyn Edwards said the extent of the options amounted to changing the School District's policy on open enrollment without debating the policy as a whole.

Board Member Sheila Moulton said she did not want to provide the choices to some high school students without offering them to all -- a sentiment echoed by several board members.

"What's fair for one part of town is fair for the other town," she said, noting that open enrollment was being tried in the Northeast Region this year.

Ultimately, it came down to the cost of mailing notices of the options to the 30,000 students who would be affected.

After several board members asked about the effect of the $115,000 cost, Schools Superintendent Walt Rulffes said that, even though that is a small amount in a $2 billion budget, the district is trying to cut $120 million to $150 million from its budget.

"The cost would be at the expense of something else," he said.

Board Member Deanna Wright, who represents Coronado, argued for the options.

"As the district wanted to offer open enrollment, I thought this would be a baby step in that direction," she told her colleagues, adding she would not favor the Coronado zone change without the option for students to choose.

The board voted 4-2 for the Coronado zone change, with Wright and Moulton opposing the motion and Board Member Chris Garvey absent, and 6-1 against the options, with Board Member Linda Young supporting them.

After the meeting ended, Wright said she hoped to bring the options back before the board with clearer figures about the cost. She said she thought the numbers presented to the board did not reflect the true cost to the district.

Steve Menard, an Anthem parent who had organized some of the opposition to the zone change, sent an e-mail out to other parents thanking them for their efforts.

"Let's embrace our new high school Liberty and pray that no child or busload of children gets into an accident on the way home from school," he wrote.

Jean Reid Norman can be reached at 990-2658 or [email protected].

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