Las Vegas Sun

September 22, 2023

Clark County School District: Overview

With over 300,000 students, 35,000 employees, 336 schools and an annual budget of $5.2 billion, the Clark County School District is the fifth-largest school district in the nation. It is also one of the fastest-growing school districts in the country, absorbing thousands of new students each year. Detailed information about CCSD growth and development can be found here.

The district is led by a seven-member board of trustees. Trustees are elected to four-year terms during the general election, and each represent a designated geographic region and its students, schools and educators. As a collective, the board is charged with policy development, budgets, governance and overseeing and guiding the district superintendent.

Trustees meet on the second and fourth Thursday of every month at 4 p.m. in the Edward A. Greer Education Center located at 2832 E. Flamingo Rd. These meetings are open to the public and provide the opportunity for residents to address the board with questions, suggestions and concerns. Trustees also hold parent advisory committee meetings once a month.

As District Superintendent and Superintendent of Schools, Walt Rulffes essentially functions as the district’s chief executive officer while working with the board to execute policies and decisions. He was appointed to his position in 2006 by the Board of Trustees. Prior to that, he was the district’s Chief Financial Officer for eight years.

County schools spent an average $6,827 on each of its students last year, which was $405 more per student than the year before. Still, drop-out and graduation rates remain an ongoing problem across the school system.

At four points below than the state average, the district’s student drop-out rate is among the worst in the nation. The figure increased slightly last year, from five-point-six percent in 2006-2007 to six percent in 2007-2008.

The system’s abysmal graduation rate is another sore point, currently sitting at just 63.8 percent.

Of the nation’s 10 largest school divisions, CCSD was the only one to make Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) in 2007-2008. Two hundred and sixteen district schools made AYP in 2007-2008, which was 33 more than the previous year. Two schools, John Miller and Walker International elementary schools, were given the “exemplary” AYP designation, while 17 others were deemed “high achieving.”

The district’s annual report is published every summer and includes information concerning student performance data; strategy, programming and operations; and financial information regarding revenues, expenditures and major programs. To download a copy of the most recent annual report, click here.

CCSD schools are broken down into seven regions. Five are based on geography (east, northeast, northwest, southeast and southwest) while the remaining two regions are designated superintendent's schools and education services division.

Professional practice schools, language acquisition schools, select (magnet) schools, and empowerment schools are included in the superintendent’s schools region. These schools have three common goals: high-quality instruction, accountability and increased student achievement.

The seventh region, the education services division, includes about 40 non-traditional schools for at-risk students. Continuation schools, behavior schools, adult education, schooling for incarcerated youth and adults, and child haven all fall under the education services division umbrella.

Each region has a regional superintendent and two assistant regional superintendents that oversee the schools, principals, assistant principals, and high school deans.

Clark County schools operate on 9 or 12-month schedules. Year-round schools organize students within one of five tracks to determine students’ calendars.

The school year begins in late August at all schools, and classes run through early June for 9-month schools, or the second week in August for 12-month schools.

All schools participate in, and close for, the same staff development days and six designated holidays (Labor Day, Nevada Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Day, Presidents’ Day, and Memorial Day). District-wide winter and spring breaks fall over Christmas Day, New Years Day, Good Friday and Easter Monday, so all students receive these days off, as well. Twelve-month schools do not hold classes on Independence Day.

Full day kindergarten is offered at 128 of the county’s elementary schools. Of there, 76 are state-funded, 42 are tuition-based, and 10 receive funding from other sources.

CCDS’s before and after school program, SafeKey, is available at most elementary schools and several middle schools. The morning program provides supervised activities for students from 7 a.m. until classes begin and after school until 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The program is operated in conjunction with the Las Vegas department of leisure services and the Clark County, Henderson, North Las Vegas, and Boulder City parks and recreation departments.

SafeKey tuition is available on a drop-in, three-day, four-day and full time basis. Family discounts and financial assistance are available for families that can demonstrate financial need. For more information about SafeKey, including price structures, click here.

Throughout the year, CCSD students have the opportunity to participate in a range of team and individual-based sports, including tennis, volleyball, cross country, golf, swimming, bowling, basketball, soccer, and track. Girls softball and boys football, wrestling, and baseball are also offered. Practices begin in August each year.

All student athletes have to maintain passing grades in all classes in order to be eligible to play school sports. They must also maintain a 2.0 GPA and take a minimum of four classes each semester. Student athletes found using, in possession of, or distributing alcohol or drugs may have their eligibility suspended for up to a year.

The district’s homework hotline provides homework assistance in all subject areas Monday through Thursday from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. During this time, live operators can be reached by calling 799-5111. Using the same number, students can also have their math questions answered on PBS cable television channels 96 and 111 by from 4 to 5 p.m. The homework hotline operates mid-September through mid-June.

Parents are encouraged to get involved in their children’s education and take advantage of some of the volunteer opportunities at both the school and district level. These activities range from formal committees to assisting with classroom instruction, school operations and fundraising.

School-based parent committees include library/media, school-generated funds, school safety, learning improvement team, and PTO, PAC, and PTA groups. At the district level, parents can get involved with a range of committees that help shape various areas of the education system, including attendance zoning, special education and sex education.

All but two schools offer daily breakfasts (Earl Lundy elementary school and the Jeffery Academic Center are the two exceptions) and all schools provide lunchtime meals. Eighty-six elementary schools receive “satellite” meals, which are prepared off-site, while most middle and high schools have complete kitchens that prepare three or more menu selections every day.

School meals are currently priced as follows: Breakfast is $1.00 and lunch is $1.50 at elementary schools, while breakfast is $1.25 and lunch is $2.00, $2.50, or $3.00 (depending on selection) at middle and high schools. All meals include milk or juice. Families may apply for reduced-price or free meals based upon financial need. Reduced-priced breakfasts are $0.30, while lunches are $0.40 for qualified students at all grade levels.

CCSD employs 180 registered school nurses. Parents can contact the school nurse by calling the school or the district health services department (799-7443). Children are considered too sick for school if they suffer diarrhea, are vomiting, or have a temperature of 100 degrees or more. If a child has any of these symptoms, parents are asked to keep them home from school.

Over 150 certified police officers patrol district properties to help keep them safe. This enhanced security effort includes two officers at each high school and one officer at most middle schools.

Special Programs

A variety of gifted and talented education (GATE) services are offered to third, fourth and fifth grade students who score within the 98th percentile or higher. Eligibility is determined using the Naglieri Non-Verbal Abilities Test and/or the Kaufman Brief Intelligence Test-2 (Verbal Subtest). Students who score below the 98th percentile may qualify for GATE services with a matrix score of 12 or above, while students with test scores between the 80th and 97th percentiles are provided with weekly enrichment activities.

The district offers special language classes for students who do not speak fluent English. The English Language Learners program includes assessment testing, individualized instruction programs and specially trained instructors. While mandated under the federal No Child Left Behind act, each student’s participation is contingent upon parental approval.

CCSD offers several virtual high school classes via TV, cable, VHS/DVD and the Internet. Full-time students may enroll in these classes free of charge. Current course offerings include advanced placement (AP) and honors-level courses, foreign languages, personal wellness and driver education.

District schools offer over 265 career and technical education courses to high school students. These classes provide hands-on and real-life experiences and are offered at all high schools, though schools with magnet programs generally offer more CTE courses than others.

About 80 CTE classes are articulated with the College of Southern Nevada to provide students with the opportunity to earn up to 15 college credits before they graduate high school. These classes often include job shadowing, internships and paid work experience.

CCSD has 21 select or magnet schools that strive to “empower students by utilizing academic rigor while integrating communication, leadership, and critical thinking skills.”

In addition to standard curriculum, select schools offer specialized program areas such as aerospace and aviation, information technologies, performing and fine arts, communications, law, health services, travel and tourism, and engineering.

Magnet Schools were designed to promote diversity, implement innovative and challenging programs, utilize innovative educational methods and practices that will increase student learning, and offer varied programs that will prepare students for both further education and future careers.

These schools provide distinctive, theme-related curriculum and instruction; attract students from outside an assigned neighborhood attendance zone; and promote diversity.

One of the district’s magnet schools, the Sandy S. Miller Academy for International Studies, was honored in 2008 with the Dr. Ronald P. Simpson Distinguished Merit Award. It was the first time a CCSD school was given the distinction, which is largely considered the top award for magnet schools in the nation. The elementary school, located in Las Vegas on E. Lake Mead Boulevard, received the designation just five years after it opened its doors.

A handful of non-magnet schools have enhanced, interactive facilities that help foster learning and engage student interest such as a space shuttle simulator, a rainforest biosphere and a 4,500-square foot simulated gold mine.

John C. Vanderburg elementary school’s rainforest biosphere allows students to study a rainforest and a Nevada desert under one roof. Meanwhile, the space shuttle simulator and control center at Frank Lamping elementary school engages students and provides a unique opportunity to learn about space exploration. Lamping’s William McCool Science Center also includes a humming bird garden and a paleontology exhibit.

Students are bussed in from across the region to explore the McCaw School of Mines at Gordon McCaw elementary school, which provides a one of a kind introduction to mining with real, hands-on learning opportunities not available anywhere else in Nevada. Originally a classroom-based model mine tunnel made out of paper maché, it is now a million dollar science project in its own 4,500 square foot facility. Built with and is maintained exclusively through private donations, the school of mines features a panning for gold station, visitor’s center and guided tours during the school year.

Registering for School

Children must be five years old by September 30 to attend kindergarten, and six years old by September 30 to attend first grade in Clark County.

Parents of new students must provide the following to register their children for school:

  • The student’s original certified birth certificate, passport or certified birth card.
  • Up-to-date immunization records.
  • Proof of residence (A power, water or gas bill, property rental/lease documentation, or mortgage/escrow statement)
  • The name and address of the previous school attended, when applicable.

For detailed information regarding school registration and requirements, click here.

Public schools in Clark County are organized into zones that determine what school a student will attend, and a student’s assigned zone is determined by where his or her parents reside. To find out what zone you live in, click hereor contact the CCSD zoning office at 799-6430.

Bus transportation is provided for students that live more than two miles from their assigned school. Students who live within a two-mile radius of their assigned school, meanwhile, are responsible for getting to and from classes on their own.

Students must attend classes within their assigned zone unless a zone variance is successfully filed and approved. Those attending select schools are excluded from this rule, however, as students may apply to any select school’s magnet program irrespective of their assigned zone.

Students are permitted to transfer schools if they are the victim of a violent crime at school, or if the schools they attend is designated “persistently dangerous” by the state of Nevada, though no CCSD school has been given that designation.

Academic Testing and Requirements

With the exception of those in the ninth grade, all CCSD students in grades four and higher are required to write at least one standardized test each year. These examinations are used to gauge student comprehension in subject areas such as reading, writing, math and science.

CCSD employs the following standardized tests:
  • TerraNova tests that are given to students in grades four, seven and 10.
  • Nevada Proficiency Examinations in writing that are given to students in grade five.
  • Criterion Referenced Tests (CRT) for reading and math that are given to students in grades three through eight.
  • Criterion Referenced Tests (CRT) for science and writing that are given to students in grades five and eight.
  • Nevada High School Proficiency Exams (NHSPE) for reading and math that are given to students in grades 10, 11 and 12.
  • Nevada High School Proficiency Exams (NHSPE) for writing that are given to students in grades 11 and 12.
  • Nevada High School Proficiency Exams (NHSPE) for science that are given to students in grades 10 and 11.
  • Alternate Writing Assessment tests that are given to all seniors.
  • All high school seniors must pass all NHSPE tests and pass at least 22.5 credits in order to graduate with a standard diploma. If a student obtains sufficient credits but fails to pass all NHSPE tests, they are given a certificate of attendance instead of a diploma.

    Standard graduation requires four credits of English and math (algebra I or IH, applied algebra IA and IB, or above); three credits of science; two credits of physical education; one credit of world history, U.S. government and U.S. history; and one-half credit of both health and computers. Students can make up the remaining 7.5 credits in elective courses of their choosing.

    An advanced diploma requires 24 credits, an unweighted GPA of at least 3.25 and additional course requirements. An honors diploma requires a weighted GPA of 3.5 or higher and several honors-level courses.