New Zoom Schools Target English Language Learners - 8 News NOW

New Zoom Schools Target English Language Learners

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LAS VEGAS -- More than 300,000 students will head back to the classroom Monday in Clark County and thousands of them don't speak English.

Some teachers say that's preventing them from succeeding.

School district leaders hope to reach these children through a new initiative called "Zoom Schools," putting extra funding where kids are struggling the most.

New CCSD Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky gathered hundreds of teachers from the newly designated schools Friday morning.

Through the initiative, CCSD will receive about $20 million over the next two years from the state to help English Language Learners.

Fourteen schools including Paradise Elementary will use that money to boost student success.

Teachers have watched Paradise deteriorate year after year.

"We have seen it just get worse and worse and worse and worse," Jan Mathis of Paradise Elementary said.

Educators watched their students struggle right along with the school, where many kids don't speak English. Poverty also plays a big role.

"We have children who come into kindergarten who have never held a pair of scissors. Who don't know their colors, don't know their shapes," Mathis said.

It's the same story down the street at Ronzone Elementary, where tattered signs are written in both English and Spanish.

Teachers say both parents and kids are dealing with major language barriers.

"When they come into the classroom not knowing how to speak English, it makes learning anything else hugely difficult," said Sarah Sunnasy, a fifth-grade teacher at Ronzone.

Administrators spoke to teachers at each of the 14 Zoom Schools Friday, getting them motivated for the start of school. These teachers now have the funding for full-day kindergarten with only 21 kids per teacher.

There's also an expanded pre-K curriculum.

"They'll finally be enough resources or at least the beginning of enough resources to be able to help every child be successful in the classroom," said CCSD Trustee Lorraine Alderman.

Ronzone school leaders say this is what's needed to make a real impact on kids.

"My staff is very excited, my community is very excited," Ronzone Principal Becky Tschinkel said.

Teachers say the extra funding will help build crucial skills early, creating a lifetime of learning. But with this funding comes the extra pressure for results.

Administrators told teachers this is the opportunity to show lawmakers they can deliver better test scores. If that happens, it could mean funding for years to come.

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