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North Las Vegas wants to rent schools to offer in-person education

Updated December 15, 2020 - 6:03 pm

North Las Vegas wants to rent unused Clark County schools to offer in-person education through its “micro academy” program if the school district does not reopen the buildings to students.

In a Dec. 7 letter, North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee told Clark County School District Superintendent Jesus Jara that he is concerned the distance learning model the district has used throughout the pandemic is leaving students behind, especially North Las Vegas students who “have been historically underserved and institutionally discriminated against.”

The district said late Monday afternoon that Jara had not reviewed the letter, but “may be able to provide comment at a later time.”

Lee urged the district to reopen schools to get as many elementary students back in the classroom as possible. He requested that the district at least allow middle and high school students to be able to attend extracurricular activities.

“Our children need something to do; they need to feel and be productive,” Lee wrote.

If schools do not reopen for in-person instruction, Lee wants to rent buildings from the district to offer in-person education through the micro academy.

Assistant City Manager Delen Goldberg said the city wouldn’t need more than one or two schools for the academy to offer in-person instruction.

In the letter, the mayor also asked Jara to allow the city to use the school district’s bus system.

“Taxpayers are paying for a system that is sitting idle — let us use it to bring children to and from the schools allowing bus drivers to get back out on the road and children to arrive on site safely and efficiently,” Lee wrote.

If the district does not allow the city to use its schools, Lee asked that North Las Vegas be able to rent desks to offer in-person education at other public and private sector buildings.

The mayor’s letter to Jara was sent just more than a week before the City Council is set to consider extending its agreement with Nevada Action for School Options to run the Southern Nevada Urban Micro Academy.

Council members are scheduled to consider an item on Wednesday that would put an additional $143,800 into the program. Approval of the item will extend the academy through the spring semester.

The academy, set up in August, is able to accommodate students from kindergarten through eighth grade. The city initially put $179,000 into the program.

According to the city, the program has been a success. The academy has had no cases of COVID-19, the city said, and students have experienced academic progress.

At a news conference Tuesday afternoon, Councilwoman Pamela Goynes-Brown said there is no substitute for in-person instruction. The micro academy is helping, she said, but it is unable to serve hundreds of thousands of students.

“CCSD needs to open so that our most vulnerable children receive the education they need and are entitled to,” she said.

Contact Blake Apgar at bapgar@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5298. Follow @blakeapgar on Twitter.

Lee SNUMA Letter by Las Vegas Review-Journal

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