Clark County School District seeks funding for portable classrooms

Clark County’s crowded elementary schools already use 1,282 portable classrooms, but new state standards are forcing the district to request $13.5 million from the state so it can add hundreds more.

The Clark County School District, which averages six portable classrooms per elementary school, needs 210 more portable classrooms because Nevada schools are being told to reduce the size of kindergarten classes.

Nevada lawmakers passed legislation this year requiring all kindergarten classes to have no more than 21 students by next school year. This school year, a third of elementary schools also must offer all-day kindergarten, not just a half-day program.

The state has traditionally funded full-day kindergarten at only the schools with the poorest, most disadvantaged students. Therefore, most of the 217 elementary schools in Clark County either don’t have full-day kindergarten or charge parents a tuition of $375 a month for the all-day program.

But lawmakers, keen on investing in early education, are moving toward universal full-day kindergarten, with this year’s legislation being a start as it sets aside funds for school districts to make that happen.

The Clark County School Board unanimously agreed Thursday to apply for $13.5 million from the Nevada Department of Education to make the changes.

“We’ve got to get this money,” Clark County Chief Student Achievement Officer Mike Barton said. “We’re concerned about being in compliance with the law.”

With 170 Clark County schools already offering full-day kindergarten, the district already meets this year’s requirement for a third of schools to have it. However, only 120 of its 217 elementary schools have 21 students or fewer per kindergarten classroom. The 97 other schools must reduce their kindergarten classes to that size by next year.

To make that happen, schools will need more rooms for kindergarten. Barton emphasized that the 210 portables will get the district partway there. Kindergarten students likely won’t be put in the doublewide trailers, he said. Upper-grade students will land there.

Contact reporter Trevon Milliard at tmilliard@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0279.