Sunday, May 21, 2023 | 2 a.m.
Since her daughter was in first grade, Cecia Alvarado has moved around Las Vegas to ensure she lived in the attendance zones for the highest-achieving schools that would best challenge her child.
“As an immigrant parent, that is my American dream. I want my daughter to have access to the best education,” said Alvarado, whose daughter is now days away from graduating from Palo Verde High School in Summerlin. “I acknowledge that I have been fortunate enough to move around, but it took a lot of sacrifices.”
A bill is advancing through the Nevada Assembly to allow a child to attend any public school outside of their attendance zone, a concept known as open enrollment — or, as Assembly Bill 497 sponsor Shannon Bilbray-Axelrod calls it, student-tailored enrollment plans, or STEPs.
With residency-based zoning, schools tend to see concentrations of students from similar economic backgrounds, she said at the bill’s first hearing Tuesday in the Assembly Education Committee.
“Areas of persistent poverty and low-cost housing will see the greatest concentration of one- and two-star schools, which leaves students and families with very few opportunities,” said Bilbray-Axelrod, D-Las Vegas.
Open enrollment weakens this link and also integrates schools with de facto segregation, a vestige of a time when mortgage lenders discriminated and forced persisting racial and ethnic enclaves, she said.
The committee on a 10-2 vote Thursday sent AB 497 to the full Assembly. To advance further, the Assembly must pass it before a May 26 deadline.
Under AB 497, enrollment zones would not be eliminated, but students could apply to schools other than their default neighborhood school if there are still open seats after all zoned students who wish to attend are accommodated. Selection would be by a lottery system, and athletic, artistic, academic or English-language ability, participation in extracurricular activities, and disability would not be deciding factors. Districts would not be required to provide transportation for open enrollment students.
Derrell Bradford, board chair for Available to All, a national nonprofit that advocates for open enrollment, told the committee that “ZIP code seems an imprecise and unfair predictor of students’ potential.”
“We should not prioritize a child’s address over their aspirations,” he said.
If passed, the law would go into effect in the 2024-25 school year.
Inaugural Superintendent’s Medallion awarded
CCSD awarded its newly created Superintendent’s Medallion to 184 graduating seniors on Tuesday for their academic excellence.
To qualify, students needed to score 31 or higher on the ACT, get at least one score of 3 or better on an Advanced Placement exam, and complete a career and technical education certification.
The inaugural class earned a combined 2,778 college credits via AP exams and averaged an ACT score of 32.5 (three got a perfect 36).
Vegas students named U.S. Presidential Scholars
Three Las Vegas students are among this year’s 161 U.S. Presidential Scholars for their accomplishments in academics, the arts, and career and technical education, the Nevada Department of Education announced.
Amy Choi (The Meadows School), Troy Warren Harris (Clark High School) and Amy Park (West Career and Technical Academy) are Nevada’s representatives in the program’s 59th class.
The White House Commission on Presidential Scholars selects scholars annually based on their academic success, artistic and technical excellence, essays, school evaluations and transcripts, and community service and leadership.
CCSD gets National Merit Scholars
Ten CCSD students have received the prestigious National Merit Scholarship.
Thomas Chung (Clark High School), Tammy Huang (Rancho High School), Elaine Kang (Coronado High School), Cassandra Kliewer (Silverado High School), Edwin Ma (Clark), Iain McMurray (Moapa Valley High School), Sean O-Lee (Advanced Technologies Academy), Amy Park (West Career and Technical Academy), Brian Vott (Coronado) and Raymond Zhang (Clark) each won $2,500 awards.
They are among 2,500 Merit Scholars nationally.
Communities In Schools honors students, school staff
Communities In Schools of Southern Nevada, a dropout prevention and social services organization serving 65 high-needs schools in CCSD, recognized students, educators and friends at its recent Power Within ceremony.
Students Elissa Diaz (Griffith Elementary School), Stephanie Martinez Villezcas (Bridger Middle School) and Dreshaun Harper (Canyon Springs High School) were recognized for their growth while participating in the program. On the adult side, Communities in Schools honored Whitney Cole (site coordinator, Western High School; “Martin Serrano Unsung Hero of the Year”), Roderick Wade (Canyon Springs High School; Academy Teacher of the Year), University of Nevada-Reno Extension (Academy Partner of the Year), Playstudios (Corporate Partner of the Year) and Ronalyn Napier (principal, Hickey Elementary School; Principal of the Year) for their contributions.
CIS of Nevada operates in 92 high-needs schools across four school districts.
CCSD teachers up for national honor
Three of Nevada’s finalists for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching are CCSD teachers.
Corwyn Evens-Klock (science, Mojave High School), Steven Gaskill (science, Knudson Middle School) and Jennifer Panczyszyn (science, Nevada Learning Academy) are up for the national honor, along with three teachers from the Reno area.
The National Science Foundation administers the award on behalf of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. A national selection committee will review finalists’ applications.
Winners will receive a certificate signed by the president, a paid trip for two to Washington, D.C., to attend recognition events and professional development opportunities, and a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation.
CCSD’s ‘Evening of Excellence’
CCSD honored five educators at its inaugural Evening of Excellence Starlight Awards on May 10.
The best-of-the-best in the district’s newest employee recognition program include Teacher of the Year Demeasa Heard (Sedway Middle School), Support Professional of the Year Belinda Strong (Lynch Elementary School), Licensed Specialist of the Year Tod Young (Variety School), Principal of the Year Melissa Roehm (Whitney Elementary School) and Central Office Administrator of the Year Amber Rideout (transportation director).
Heard and Strong also won new vehicles donated by United Nissan.