School Board seeks additional funding to improve struggling schools

Another crop of Clark County’s worst-performing schools are seeking millions in federal aid to reboot over three years, but other schools already deep into their $8.7 million improvement grants remain far from achieving the desired “turnaround” status.

The Clark County School Board unanimously agreed Thursday to apply for $5.3 million in federal School Improvement Grants to kick start turnarounds at Del Sol, Valley and Desert Pines high schools, which will start next school year with new principals and staff members.

The money will be spent on after-school and Saturday tutoring, summer courses for incoming freshmen, extra staffing, teachers’ professional development and staff bonuses for student gains.

The schools’ performances rank near the bottom among the district’s 45 high schools.

Less than half of Valley and Del Sol’s current sophomores passed the reading and science proficiency exams required to graduate high school.

Only 19 percent of Del Sol’s sophomores passed the state-required math exam. Valley had a slightly better 23 percent pass rate.

Only a few schools did worse on the math test.

They include Chaparral, Mojave and Western high schools, turnaround schools which are supposed to be on the path to quick improvement, having spent millions of federal dollars since 2011 on that goal. And they have just one more year of extra funding remaining.

Out of 45 high schools, Mojave had the second-worst pass rate in the district on the math test and the third-worst pass rate on the science test.

Western had the lowest pass rate in the district on the science test and was third from the bottom in reading.

Chaparral was fourth from the bottom in reading and science.

These schools did make some gains, according to the Nevada Department of Education.

Mojave’s and Western’s graduation rates increased.

Chaparral’s graduation rate jumped from 33 percent in 2011 to 48 percent in 2012, marking the largest percentage increase in the district, but it falls short of the district’s 61 percent average.

Board member Lorraine Alderman said that, on paper, the results are mixed.

“But there’s no silver bullet to fix everything at once,” she said, convinced a transformation is happening at the schools.

“Talking with students is proof,” Alderman said.

“They now take their education seriously even if the data doesn’t show it for a couple years.”

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