CCSD expanding magnet programs to ease overcrowding

LAS VEGAS -- The Clark County School District has struggled with how to ease overcrowding for years now.

It is now 20,000 students over capacity. Rezoning, year-round schools and portables are helping, but many in the district hope an announcement made Wednesday makes a big difference.

The district plans to add seven new magnet programs and five select schools, opening up thousands of seats.

It could give kids opportunities they wouldn't otherwise have and magnet schools have a 93 percent graduation rate.

Rancho High School is one of 17 CCSD magnet programs nationally recognized this year for academic excellence.

"In our aviation program, students can either fly a plane, they can become private pilots before they get their drivers license. They learn to build planes," Rancho High School Principal James Kuzma said.

In their medical program, Principal James Kuzma says students can graduate high school as licensed paramedics or emergency medical technicians.

Starting in the 2015-16 school year, CCSD is turning seven schools into magnet programs and another four will be added for the 2016/17 year. All together, 3,900 will positions will be available, hopefully drawing more students into less crowded magnet schools.

Five high schools will be named select schools, where students can apply to enroll, opening up 1,300 seats. These seats are open only because these selected schools are under capacity.

"The demand is there. Our families really want to have choice and this is a great way to provide more choice for our students and for our families," Jesse Welsh with the district said.

Welsh is one of many people who created this idea, spending the last 12 months preparing for this debut.

He admits some details need ironing out, like teacher development.

"We know there is going to be a need for training and there may be a need to hire more specialized educators," Welsh said.

As enrollment increases, the state allocates more money for teachers at these new schools like Silverado High School, where John Anzalone is principal.

Beyond easing overcrowding, Anzalone says it opens the door for students in his school's at-risk area.

"It is going to give them an opportunity for the future, not only career wise, but college-wise," Anzalone said.

CCSD is also ironing out transportation, only for kids who live near the new magnet school. The district has posted the criteria to transfer to a magnet school at ccsd.net/schools/magnet-cta/

The following schools will accept applications in spring 2015 for programs that start in the 2015/2016 school year.

  • Gordon McCaw Elementary School - Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Academy
  • Clarence Piggott Elementary School - International Baccalaureate program
  • Walter Johnson Middle School - International Baccalaureate program
  • Thurman White Middle School - Performing Arts Academy
  • Kenny C. Guinn Middle School - Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Academy
  • Del Sol High School - Performing Arts Academy
  • Eldorado High School - Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Academy


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