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August 21, 2014

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School zoning options get another look

Coronado, Liberty students see more choices

Coronado High School freshmen and sophomores who have been rezoned to Liberty High but want to stay put may have that choice in the fall.

The Clark County School Board voted 6-0 with member Larry Mason absent to approve an option that invites all Coronado students to attend Liberty in the fall. If seats are freed up at Coronado by that option, those seats may be filled by students who live in Madeira Canyon and Anthem Highlands, which were rezoned to Liberty.

The School District rezoned the students to ease crowding at Coronado, which is 17 percent over capacity, and fill seats at Liberty, which is 29 percent under.

John Karachepone, who lives in Anthem Highlands, said he would be applying for one of those freed-up seats for his 10th-grader.

“I want my child to stay in Coronado,” he said. “There should not be conditions.”

Meanwhile, the Roma Hills neighborhood, on the eastern border of the Coronado zone, will continue to be zoned for Foothill. An option that would have allowed students there to go to Coronado, three miles away, was denied. Foothill is eight miles from the neighborhood.

“We will take matters into our own hands and make the best decision for our children,” said Roma Hills resident Jeff Moxley, whose child attends Coronado on a variance. His wife, Laura, said they would apply for another variance for next year.

School Board members unanimously approved six sets of options that will allow freshmen and sophomores who were rezoned to existing high schools a chance at staying at their current schools.

In addition to Coronado, that option will be open to students at Palo Verde High being rezoned to Bonanza, students at Rancho and Chaparral High being rezoned to Desert Pines and students at Las Vegas and Desert Pines High being rezoned to Eldorado.

In all cases, the options will be allowed only if seats are available and if the students provide their own transportation.

If more students seek the option than the school can accommodate, a lottery will be held, as it is for magnet school seats. The idea did not sit well with Karachepone.

“I hope it doesn’t have to go to a lottery,” he said. “That my child’s education would be subject to a lottery is beyond me.”

The School Board members debated the options at length after hearing an hour of testimony from parents. Several said they were uncomfortable with forcing Madeira Canyon and Anthem Highlands students to move to Liberty, but then allowing Roma Hills students to move into Coronado.

Under the option the board declined, Coronado students who live north of Interstate 215 would have been allowed to go to Green Valley High, where their peers from Greenspun Junior High School go. Any seats freed up by those students would have been given to Roma Hills students to transfer from Foothill to Coronado, where their Bob Miller Middle School friends attend.

“There is no way I can support moving students out of Coronado and offering seats to other students not in Madeira Canyon,” member Carolyn Edwards said.

Zoning director Sharon Dattoli said her department will propose to the Attendance Zoning Advisory Commission next year a plan to rezone Roma Hills and the area north of Interstate 215.

Moxley said she did not hold out any hope that Roma Hills would be rezoned for Coronado.

“I think again you’re going to have the same controversy,” she said, noting the neighborhood has been trying to be rezoned for almost 10 years. “The process hasn’t worked in the past for us.”

Board members also debated whether they were inadvertently changing policy or setting precedent.

“If the board wants open enrollment, it should make a decision to that effect and direct staff to come back with a comprehensive plan,” Edwards said. “This feels like an open enrollment plan.”

But other members noted that it was a one-time offering for this year’s freshmen and sophomores.

The board originally denied all of the options March 3, after they learned that notifying the families involved could cost $115,000. The item was brought back to the board after staff members redesigned the letter to take advantage of bulk mail savings and brought the cost down to $12,000.

Families will have until April 3 to return a post card choosing an appropriate option if they wish. They will learn whether their children will be able to remain at the existing schools by May 4.

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

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