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October 31, 2014

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Some parents upset over proposed school zone changes

School District also considering plan to allow established students to finish at their schools

Parents in a couple of Henderson neighborhoods are bracing for a fight over proposals to rezone their children to different schools next fall.

The Clark County School District’s Attendance Zone Advisory Committee took a first look Tuesday at proposals to adjust attendance zones for the next school year.

The proposals included changes to three south Henderson high schools, two middle schools and up to six elementary schools. The elementary school changes are to accommodate a new school in Anthem Highlands.

Also on the agenda are changes to accommodate three other elementary schools due to open next fall — two north of the 215 Beltway and one in Southern Highlands.

What drew the attention of parents at the initial meeting, however, were proposals to move middle school students in the Champion Village neighborhood from Bob Miller to Lyle Burkholder Middle School and to move children in the Pebble Creek neighborhood from Vanderbilt to Cox Elementary.

Sabrina Johnson, who lives in Champion Village, said her son became upset when he heard about the possibility he would be rezoned from Miller to Burkholder.

“No mom, not again. It’s just too much. I’m not going,’” Johnson said he told her. He had gone to Twitchell Elementary from kindergarten through fourth grade, then to Kesterson for fifth grade, where he had few friends, she said. When he got to sixth grade, he was reunited with his friends from Twitchell, she said.

“Middle school is scary,” Johnson said. “What got him through was he was going with kids he knew.”

It is because of such complaints that the School District is examining phasing, which would allow students in a school to choose to remain there and rezone only new students. A committee on phasing will meet at 2 p.m. Nov. 4 at the Channel 10 building, 4210 Channel 10 Drive, Las Vegas.

“Any student who starts a school should be able to finish,” said Joanne Foutz, a member of the zoning committee.

Lori Stapleton, another Champion Village resident, said she has had to fight on and off for several years to keep her children at Miller, where their siblings went. “Two years from now, we will be doing this again,” she said.

The proposal to rezone 78 students from Miller to Burkholder was designed to align the feeder schools, allowing students from Champion Village to stay together at Kesterson, then Miller and finally Foothill High, Rick Baldwin, demographics and zoning coordinator, said.

But Stapleton said Kesterson students already go to four different middle schools. “The theory of feeder school alignment can be thrown out,” she said.

Tasea Goupil said her neighborhood of Pebble Creek, between I-215 and Pebble Road north of Pecos Road, has been bounced back and forth between Vanderbilt and David Cox Elementary. Two of the proposals to accommodate the new Shirley and Bill Wallin Elementary in Anthem Highlands move Pebble Creek out of Vanderbilt.

“I would like Pebble Creek to pick an elementary school where they can go to Miller and Coronado and stay there,” Goupil said. “It's not fair every year for these kids to be on the chopping block.”

In addition to the Miller move, officials have proposed rezoning students who live in neighborhoods between Wigwam Parkway and Interstate 215 from Coronado to Green Valley High. The change was proposed last year, Baldwin said, but was lost in the controversy over moving Madiera Canyon students from Coronado to Liberty High. The Coronado students off Wigwam currently go to Greenspun with classmates who then go on to Green Valley.

The proposal also would allow students in the Roma Hills neighborhood to go to Coronado instead of Foothill. The switch moves 169 students out of Coronado and 106 into the school, Baldwin said.

Elyse Tyrell of Roma Hills thanked the attendance zone committee for the proposal that will allow her children to go to Coronado with their friends from Miller. “We appreciate the opportunity to stay with the Bob Miller/Vanderbilt family,” she said.

For the four new elementary schools, zoning officials proposed the following:

Wallin Elementary in Anthem Highlands — Three preliminary scenarios have been drawn up. All three significantly reduce enrollment at Elise Wolff Elementary, which is 19 percent over capacity, and move the Inspirada master-planned community out of Steve Schorr Elementary. Two also change the boundaries for Lamping Elementary, which is 24 percent over capacity, Glen Taylor, Vanderburg and Twitchell.

Vincent Triggs and Ruby Duncan Elementary north of the 215 Beltway — Triggs will provide relief to Goynes and Kitty Ward Elementary, which are 32 and 57 percent over capacity, respectively, and cause adjustments at Howard Heckethorn and Kay Carl as well. Duncan will share an attendance zone with Hayden Elementary and affect attendance zones of Frederic Watson and John Tartan.

Evelyn Stuckey Elementary in Southern Highlands — Stuckey will provide relief to Charles and Phyllis Frias and Aldeane Ries Elementary, which are 24 and 33 percent over capacity, respectively. It would be a third elementary serving the Southern Highlands community.

Zoning officials also will take another look at the boundaries of Eileen Conners and Sheila Tarr Elementary to try to even the enrollment between the schools. Both are nine-month schools that can accommodate 746 students. Conners has 834 students this year, compared with Tarr’s 624.

An attempt to even out the enrollment last year was postponed after parents told the zoning committee it was breaking up a neighborhood.

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