Clark County School District names 3 new turnaround schools

Three persistently poor-performing Clark County schools have earned the “turnaround” label, meaning the campuses will receive extra resources over the next three years and experience dramatic staff changes to improve student standings.

New principals will be announced in a few weeks for Mountain View Elementary School, near Christy Lane and Lake Mead Boulevard, and Bailey Middle School, near Carey Avenue and Hollywood Boulevard. The new principals have the freedom to replace the entire school administration and also 10 to 15 teachers and support staff. The schools’ exiting principals and staff members will be reassigned to positions of equal status and salary elsewhere in the Clark County School District.

Manch Elementary School Principal Diane Lewis will remain at the school, near Nellis and Las Vegas boulevards, for the 2014-15 academic year. She has only been at the school for three years and received support from Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky and the turnaround review panel to stay at the helm.

“These schools are in the emergency room,” said Academic Manager and Turnaround Schools Supervisor Jeff Geihs, who, with the addition of the three new campuses, oversees 14 Clark County turnaround schools responsible for 20,000 students.

Looking at the state-mandated exams in 2013, only 27 percent of Bailey students earned grade-level math scores. Manch and Mountain View did a little better but only had 44 and 48 percent of students at grade level in math, respectively.

Reading scores put 34 percent of Bailey students at proficient. About 36 percent of Manch students and 47 percent of Mountain View students could read at grade level.

In addition to poor academic performance, Bailey struggles with numerous disciplinary problems with 104 reports of student-on-student violence in 2013, more than double the district’s middle school average of 48 incidents, according to the Nevada Department of Education. It also had 94 students who were habitually absent, more than seven times the district’s middle school average of 13 students.

Students at the three new turnaround schools are predominately Hispanic or black, ethnicities test results show underperform their Clark County peers.

The district’s other turnaround schools are Hancock, Sunrise Acres, Roundy and Wilhelm elementary schools; O’Callaghan Middle School; Canyon Springs, Chaparral, Cimarron-Memorial, Mojave, Sunrise Mountain and Western high schools.

The three new turnaround schools won’t receive any federal turnaround grants, the same as Roundy, Sunrise Acres, O’Callaghan, Cimarron-Memorial, Sunrise Mountain and Wilhelm. These schools will instead share the $2 million set aside by the district for changes including extending the school day, providing more individual student supports, and coaching for teachers and administrators.

“With additional support, we expect these schools will improve their results,” Skorkowsky said.

The turnaround status of Hancock, Chaparral, Mojave, Western and Canyon Springs have been federally funded to the tune of $12.8 million over three years. However, the three-year grants for all but Canyon Springs end in June. That means Hancock, Chaparral, Mojave and Western may be taken off the turnaround list, unless the district wants to pick up their funding. The district’s chief officers and superintendent will decide if enough improvement has been made at the schools to take them out of the “emergency room” and return them to the ranks of other schools, Geihs said.

“It’s my prediction that will happen,” said Geihs, noting the schools’ academic improvement.

District officials considered nine schools for the turnaround designation this year – interviewing every staff member to see how the campuses operate – before picking Bailey, Manch and Mountain View. The other struggling schools under consideration were Whitney, Priest, Herr and Dearing elementary schools, and Desert Oasis and Bonanza high schools.

“There’s a recipe for school improvement,” Geihs said. “The school-review process tells us if all the ingredients are in a school’s recipe.”

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

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