Las Vegas Sun

August 30, 2014

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LOOKING IN ON: EDUCATION:

Newest health center fills a need

Clinic at elementary school provides basic medical care

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Leila Navidi

Dr. Caroline Barangan covers a cut on the finger of fourth grader Regina Young, 9, on Friday at the Matt Kelly Elementary School Community Based Health Center. Friday was opening day for the health center at the school. Its attending physicians will be residents from the University of Nevada School of Medicine.

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Kindergartner Emounn Washington plays around in the recreational area of the health center at Matt Kelly Elementary.

A campus-based health center opened Friday at Matt Kelly Elementary, providing services to hundreds of students who would otherwise likely go without basic medical care such as hearing and vision exams and treatment of chronic illnesses such as asthma.

The health center’s attending physicians will be residents from University of Nevada School of Medicine, one of the initiative’s key sponsors. Support also comes from Las Vegas, the School District, Metro Police and the Nevada Youth Alliance.

The nonprofit Nevada Health Centers operates similar clinics at C.P. Squires Elementary School, Roy Martin Middle School and Valley High School. Basic High School also has a campus health center, operated in partnership with Nevada State College. Communities in Schools of Southern Nevada, which matches volunteers and donors with campuses in need, oversees two school-based health centers, at Cunningham and Martinez elementary schools.

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Each year thousands of Clark County students are left on campus at the end of the academic day because no one has shown up to retrieve them.

The district’s policy was straightforward. When none of the emergency contacts in the student’s file could be reached, an attendance officer would be dispatched to the residence. If there were no one home, the officer would leave a printed form explaining that the student could be retrieved at a local Boys & Girls Club. After 7 p.m., the student would be handed over to Child Protective Services.

Last year attendance officers ferried nearly 1,000 students — “leftovers,” in the district’s terminology — to Boys & Girls Clubs.

This fall, the district has changed its protocol. If no emergency contact can be reached, attendance officers no longer swing by the student’s home address. Instead, students are taken directly to the Boys & Girls Club. Parents will now find the printed forms — listing the student’s first initial and last name — taped to the locked front door of the school, where presumably they will go to look for their child.

The change will make the process a little less convenient for parents who might have viewed the Boys & Girls Club as free child care. It will also give attendance officers more time for other duties, including tracking down truants.

Schools encourage all parents to sign up for Safe Key, a city-run child care program that operates on many campuses. That way, if a problem arises, the child has somewhere safe to go until the parent can get to the school. But some parents resist because they don’t expect to need the service or they don’t want to pay the $7 daily cost.

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With less than a week remaining before the all-important “count day,” Clark County campuses are scrambling to enroll as many students as possible to ensure they receive the maximum possible per-pupil state funding.

The state uses the enrollment count on the third Friday in September to determine how much each campus receives. Schools don’t receive additional money for students who show up after that date — but they don’t have to give back money for students who leave after it.

That’s just one of the quirks of Nevada’s K-12 funding formula, which includes charter schools.

For the 2009-10 academic year, charter schools will receive $6,433 per student.

Some of Clark County’s charter schools are filled, including Agassi Prep. Rainbow Dreams Academy in North Las Vegas has a few spots remaining in the fourth grade.

The Las Vegas Charter School of the Deaf has seats in grades K-3 for students who are deaf or hard of hearing. The campus recently relocated to space at the Lit’l Scholar Academy at 1951 S. Rainbow Blvd.

The school has five students, its largest enrollment since opening last year. Students receive “bilingual-bicultural education,” a model followed by many of the nation’s top schools for the deaf. Teachers are fluent in American Sign Language, and students learn to read and write in English.

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