14 Zoom schools to target English language learners

School will be a lot different this fall for students of 14 Clark County elementary schools. These schools will receive a total of $39.4 million as part of a state pilot program to boost performance of English language-learning students over the next two years.

The schools, representing just 6 percent of the district’s 217 elementary schools, will offer prekindergarten, full-day kindergarten, summer school and reading development centers operated in partnership with the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in an effort to reach literacy for those children.

The schools are Cambeiro, Cortez, Craig, Detwiler, Diaz, Herron, Lunt, Martinez, Paradise, Petersen, Ronzone, Tate, Warren and Williams elementary schools.

Danielle Miller, academic manager for these 14 schools dubbed “zoom schools,” said the district chose campuses with the highest percentage of students struggling to speak English and the lowest academic achievement. Despite the current low achievement, she expects results “immediately.”

“I want great gains. The opportunity is there,” said an excited Miller, noting that the district got what it was asking for, receiving 76 percent of the state-allocated $50 million for an unprecedented program.

For the first time in Nevada history, state funds have been earmarked specifically for English-learning students.

She said the district will set academic expectations for student performance, setting a bar to be met.

But district officials and Southern Nevada families won’t be the only ones watching.

The Legislature has required the district to report student performance to see if it’s getting the expected return on investment.

“We got what we wanted,” Miller said. “Now, we have to do it.”

More than 92 percent of the money will pay teacher salaries and benefits, not only extending the school year but adding teachers to reduce class sizes and offering intensive tutoring at reading development centers.

The plan is to have kindergarten classrooms of 21 to 23 students, she said, noting that some full-day kindergarten classes currently reach 37 students in Clark County.

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