More Than Half of Clark County Students Considered Low Income - 8 News NOW

More Than Half of Clark County Students Considered Low Income

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LAS VEGAS -- Troubling new numbers show more than half of Nevada kids are considered low income. Clark County teachers say students aren't just coming to class hungry, they're also sick because most of them never see a doctor or a dentist.

A study by the Southern Education Foundation shows, for the first time in 40 years, the majority of students in the American South and West are low income.

Nearly 60 percent of students in Clark County qualify for the free or reduced lunch program; it's a key indicator of poverty. That percentage equates to more 186,000 thousand students. Teachers say some of the poor and homeless kids arrive at school with toothaches because they're never been to a dentist and some can't see because they need glasses.

Inside Whitney Elementary School, Ms. Butterfield's first grade class is learning one word at a time. Looking at the excited kids, one might not know nearly all of them (90 percent) are living in poverty.

"I had a child last week who literally had oozing coming from his mouth," said Sherrie Gahn, Whitney Elementary School's principal.

Kids going to school with major health problems is an almost daily occurrence.

"His mouth, literally for weeks, was all puffy. That's what made us take him. We couldn't just leave him here," Gahn said.

Counselor Vicki Bustos is the first line of defense and sometimes takes kids in need to see a doctor. She says many students desperately need dental care, glasses or could use basic mental health services.

"We're all just like hyper alert for our kids here because we know the conditions they live in and what they're facing," she said.

Sick or hurting students can also cause other students to become distracted in class.

"It's even hard for those kids to concentrate when someone else is hurting," Bustos said.

"We hope that if we can provide, as much as possible, we can alleviate the stress for the parents and the children can be kids," Gahn said.

Providing medical care continues to be one of the toughest challenges these educators face. Teachers say they will keep seeking out volunteers to help give kids what they can't in the hopes of keeping them healthy enough to stay in class.

Whitney Elementary School depends on volunteer doctors and healthcare professionals to provide care.

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