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Three struggling schools to get new principals, staff

Principals and up to a dozen staff members will be replaced at three "chronically underperforming" schools in the north valley, according to Clark County School District officials and letters sent home with students Monday.

"We cannot leave these kids in a situation where their chances for success aren’t the same as others in the district," said Superintendent Dwight Jones, emphasizing that Cimarron-Memorial High School, Sunrise Mountain High School and Wilhelm Elementary School aren’t being punished. The changes will pave way for a "fresh start" in the fall.

District officials chose to add the three schools to a list of 10 other struggling schools in an effort to boost student achievement.

But unlike the 10 previously designated Turnaround Schools, these three reworked schools won’t be bolstered by hundreds of thousands of dollars in extra funding. Or any extra funding, for that matter.

New principals – to be named by the end of the month – will be allowed to replace up to 10 staff members at Wilhelm and 12 staff members each at Cimarron-Memorial and Sunrise Mountain. The schools will have dibs on district resources that become available, such as high-quality teachers and participation in professional development training.

But that’s it for now, district spokeswoman Amanda Fulkerson said.

Of the four schools that began their turnarounds this school year, Roundy and Sunrise Acres elementary schools each received $200,000 in extra funds on top of the $375 per student they already receive in Title 1 funds because their enrollments include high numbers of students living in poverty. O’Callaghan Middle School received $500,000 in extra funding and also received extra Title 1 funding. Canyon Springs High School will receive $4.1 million over three years.

However, the common source of turnaround funding, federal School Improvement Grants, may soon dry up and can’t be counted on, Deputy Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky said.

Therefore, the district is doing its latest round of turnarounds without outside support. Although Clark County is the fifth-largest district in the country, it’s also cash-strapped.

Officials argue they can’t afford taking from other schools to provide extra funding at these three.

The three principals at the schools were told of their removals Friday evening. They weren’t accepting calls for comment Monday, but they aren’t being fired. They will be transferred to other positions in the district that would "benefit from their talents," Fulkerson said.

Departing staff members will be placed elsewhere in the district, not fired.

The three schools were chosen from a list of 12 candidates under review since December because they posted three consecutive years of low achievement. External administrators conducted teacher and principal interviews, observed classrooms and analyzed test data to come to a decision.

The district’s other turnarounds are Carson and Hancock elementary schools, and Chaparral, Mojave, Western and Rancho high schools.

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

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