Conference planned to discuss school choice

Parents have until Oct. 17 to decide whether to remove their children from Empire Elementary School, which was determined this year to be in need of improvement.

But so far, Principal Pat Carpenter said she has not received any indication of parents wanting to leave.

"I haven't even had one phone call about it," she said. "We'll see what happens."

Letters were sent home with all students Thursday explaining the designation and the choices available to parents.

Under the federal No Child Left Behind guidelines, if a school fails to make adequate yearly progress for two simultaneous years, students must be offered the option of attending a different school.

"The Carson City School District has designated Mark Twain and Fritsch elementary schools as the the schools that will have spaces available for students who would like to transfer," the letter explained. "Transportation will be provided."

An informational meeting is planned for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the school to answer any additional questions.

A committee will also meet today to determine the course of action to raise test scores among all populations at the school.

As a whole, the school met the requirements of adequate yearly progress. However, some of the subgroups did not, dropping the entire school into needs-improvement status.

Carpenter said it is not a reflection of poor performance by students or teachers at a school where more than half the students speak English as a second language. Last year, there were 49 students who did not speak any English when entering.

"We should really be the gifted and talented school -- we have more bilingual students than at any other school in the district," she said. "There's so many advantages to the diversity over here. We're a better mirror of the future."

The sanctions apply only to schools receiving a federal Title I grant based on the percentage of low-income students enrolled in the school.

In Carson City, Empire, Mark Twain and Bordewich-Bray are Title I schools.

Mark Twain Elementary School shed its "needs improvement" label this year, after two years in a row of meeting the requirements of adequate yearly progress.

If you go:

What: School choice informational meeting

When: 6:30 p.m. Wednesday

Where: Empire Elementary School


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