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Parents may have say in future of Clark County’s failing schools

Thirty-six of 51 underperforming Clark County schools eligible for charter school conversion or new charter competition have another option for improvement: a state-approved petition process that allows parents to decide a path forward.

The Achievement School District initiative, in its second school year of operation, allows charter school operators to take over failing schools or open a competing school nearby.

Schools are eligible for the initiative if they are in the bottom 5 percent of the state’s accountability system, or if they have graduation rates below 67 percent — a higher threshold than the 60 percent used in previous years.

Eligibility is also now expanded to include one-star schools, which are also on the state’s underperforming “Rising Stars” list.

But those one-star schools also have another option for success this year after the Legislative Commission approved a process for parents or guardians, who can rally behind petition options to boost academic success.

Some options include forming a nonprofit partnership, adopting an improvement plan with evidence-based strategies or becoming part of the Achievement School District.

“We can’t deny that schools in the one-star category need change … but the (Achievement School District) isn’t necessarily the solution for every one of those schools,” said Rebecca Feiden, director of the achievement district. “So we want to make sure that parents have an avenue to tell us what they believe is the best thing to do to improve that school.”

Petitions, which are due to the achievement district by Nov. 15, require parents’ signatures that represent more than half of the students at a school. Schools without petitions are still eligible for the achievement district.

Achievement district staff will recommend at least 20 percent of eligible schools to be considered for the achievement district to the State Board of Education in December. The board must approve at least half of those schools.

Superintendent Jesus Jara said the district is committed to doing everything it can to support students, families, teachers and principals.

”We also will continue working with the state to ensure we are providing the necessary interventions, structures and systems that each individual school needs to succeed,” he said in a statement. “This is an opportunity to evaluate our funding structure to ensure it is equitable and targeted based on research and what we know is working in our classrooms.”

Meanwhile, 15 Clark County schools identified as Rising Stars in 2017 have made significant gains, including Cambeiro Elementary. That school, which was selected for the achievement district and faced competition from the nearby Futuro Academy, shot from one to three stars.

Contact Amelia Pak-Harvey at apak-harvey@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4630. Follow @AmeliaPakHarvey on Twitter.

Nevada's 2018 Rising Stars Schools by Las Vegas Review-Journal on Scribd

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