Back to school

The politics, finances and performance of the Clark County School District command the headlines of this newspaper all year, every year. But with Monday's start of a new school year, it's important to take a moment to focus on the reason for this adult-centered focus: the more than 300,000 students who attend 357 campuses throughout the county.

All the election arguments, legislative squabbles, School Board decisions and PTA campaigns are supposed to be about the kids. And the outcome of this school year -- the first full year for new Superintendent Dwight Jones and his improvement initiatives -- rests largely with our children.

But they're certainly not alone, nor should they be. Students need support, encouragement and guidance. As they refocus themselves for the rigors of the year ahead, parents should do the same. They can help their children start strong by taking a few simple steps:

-- Attend the open house your school will host sometime in the next week, and meet your child's teachers and principal. You'll almost certainly find that they're hard-working, dedicated professionals who want your child to reach his or her full potential.

-- If you haven't already, learn how to access the district's ParentLink system on the Internet. Along with your specific school's website, it's an invaluable resource in tracking your child's progress, communicating with teachers and administrators and keeping up with school events and activities.

-- Finally, take time each day to read to your children, and encourage them to read to themselves. Put away the cellphones and electronic devices -- yours and theirs -- and, however briefly, create some distraction-free time that emphasizes the importance of their studies.