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High school zoning options back on the table

Updated Tuesday, March 10, 2009 | 10:34 p.m.

Zoning options

WHAT: Clark County School Board meeting on zoning options

WHEN: 4 p.m. March 12

WHERE: Edward A. Greer Education Center, 2832 E. Flamingo Road, Las Vegas

INFO: Visit the Web site and click on 'Agenda for March 12 meeting' or call 799-5000

The Clark County School Board will reconsider a zoning plan Thursday that would give some students at 13 high schools a choice of which school to attend in the fall.

The School Board considered eight different options on March 3 that would have allowed selected freshmen and sophomores at high schools being rezoned in the fall to remain at their current schools but rejected all of the options.

The options would have applied to three groups of schools: Coronado, Liberty, Foothill and Green Valley high schools; Desert Pines, Eldorado, Mojave, Rancho, Sunrise Mountain, Las Vegas and Chaparral high schools; and Bonanza and Palo Verde high schools.

For each of the zoning plans, all students in crowded schools within a group would have had the choice of moving to schools that are under capacity.

Seats freed up by those who made that choice would then be available to students who were rezoned to other schools but wished to stay. Students would have been required to provide their own transportation.

The problem, School Board President Terri Janison and Trustee Deanna Wright said, was the cost of mailing notices to the 30,000 affected students was $115,000, an amount the board did not want to spend given the budget crisis.

"It's easy to say, 'It's a drop in the bucket,'" Wright said. "If we did that every time, we would have a lot of drops in the bucket. ... We don't have a lot of extra drops to waste."

Since the March 3 meeting, the Clark County School District staff has figured out a cheaper way to notify students, both School Board members said. Wright said she thought the School District would be using postcards and ParentLink, the district's online system to communicate with parents about their children's grades and attendance.

"We were thrown by the amount of money," Janison said. "I had said there's got to be a better way to reach people other than to spend the money on mailings."

The options are a first step toward school choice, a goal the School Board would like the School District to work toward, Janison said.

Wright said she hoped the lower cost would persuade the rest of the School Board to support the options and that they would be available next fall.

She noted that it was important to give families as much choice as possible. "It is very difficult to take a student who has been involved in one school environment for one to two years and move the student to a rival school," Wright said. "It's one of the most difficult things to ask a student to do.

"We are doing what we can to help the students who really, really want to stay and to give them some options," she said.

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