Thousands of Clark County Kids Head Back to School - 8 News NOW

Thousands of Clark County Kids Head Back to School

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LAS VEGAS -- It's the first day of school for more than 300,000 Clark County students as a new school year begins. There is a mix of emotions, from excitement to anxiousness for both kids and parents.

School Superintendent Dwight Jones visited Clark High and Bell Elementary schools this morning to welcome students back to the classroom and greet parents. It is also Jones's first back-to-school day since taking over as the chief of the nation's fifth-largest school district.

Earlier this year, he rolled out a number of initiatives for students to improve their education. Jones said despite the ongoing budget crisis, he needs to focus turning around one of the worst graduation rates in the country.

"When you think I have 10,000 12th graders in harms way of not graduating, that's my immediate challenge. But over long run, build whole system that gets better results, not being reactionary, but being proactive to expect better of ourselves and our kids," he said.

Some of the new changes this year include the state adopting a common core curriculum, which makes classes like math and sciences more challenging. Also new performance zones are in place where elementary, middle and high schools in the same areas are grouped together to improve communication between campuses.

Deanna Jaskolski, principal at Bridger Middle School, said parents also play a big part in the students success.

"Teachers will reach out to you. Reach out back with them so they understand how important it is to have everyone working together for their kids," she said.

According to Superintendent Jones, his goal for middle school students is to boost their literacy. The same goes for elementary school kids, who are expected to increase their reading levels from the year before as part of his new initiatives.

As for the teachers in the district, they are still working without a contract as both the union and the school district are set to go into mediation. For now, all sides are putting on an optimistic face as they welcome kids back to school for the new year.

This year will also be the first for the district to implement an alternative to No Child Left Behind for tracking student progress.  CCSD will use the Nevada Growth Model which measures a student's progress from year to year.

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