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September 15, 2014

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Five things you should know about school overcrowding in Clark County

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MONA SHIELD PAYNE / SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Thirty-five fourth graders squeeze in together for their morning lesson in the only space available in their portable classroom, which was intended for 30 students, at William V. Wright Elementary School, Friday, March 22, 2013.

Overcrowded Classrooms

Dedra Steinline has her class of 36 take shifts at the microscopes due to her large class size at Palo Verde High School Wednesday, May 11, 2011. Launch slideshow »

Crowded Classrooms

With barely enough room to pass between desks, students in Mr. Gularte's fourth-grade class begin their morning learning in a classroom of 35 students exceeding the average of 30 students at William V. Wright Elementary School, Friday, March 22, 2013. Launch slideshow »

The Clark County School District faces record enrollment growth, but dwindling money for new schools.

As a result, officials say school campuses are brimming with students and class sizes are ballooning. Officials say that without more capital funding, the nation’s fifth-largest school district won’t have enough space for the influx of new students, whose families are flocking back to Las Vegas in the economic recovery.

Here are five things you should know about the School District’s classroom crowding conundrum:

1. The state’s official “count day” enrollment for Clark County this year is 314,643 students. However, the School District really has 318,792 students, because the state doesn’t count nearly 4,000 preschool students attending Clark County schools.

The district’s official enrollment is also deflated because student enrollment continues to rise throughout the school year. Overall, Clark County has gained 1,710 students since “count day” at the beginning of the school year — none of whom have been funded by the state.

2. Next school year, district officials are projecting another record-breaking enrollment count: an increase of about 3,330 students from this year. As a result, the district is hiring hundreds of new teachers and support staff to educate these students.

3. Most of the enrollment growth has taken place at elementary schools, which are 18 percent over capacity. Currently, 156,966 preschool and K-5 students are packing the district’s 217 elementary schools. However, these elementary schools were only designed to hold 133,522 students.

4. To alleviate crowded classrooms, 13 elementary schools will be on a year-round calendar next year. Students still receive 180 days of instruction, but will attend school on five different tracks, with one track of students always on break.

With 13 elementary schools on a year-round calendar next year, the district’s school capacity rises to 135,685 students. However, this won’t make much of a dent in crowded elementary schools. Elementary schools still will be over capacity by 15.6 percent, down from 18 percent.

5. To boost school space, the district installed 92 portable classrooms since the fall. Clark County has more than 1,600 portables, which if converted to permanent schools would total more than 30 new campuses.

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