School-empowerment program to go on despite funding loss |

School-empowerment program to go on despite funding loss

Sara Thompson

A statewide program in Nevada to give rural schools more educational options will be curtailed, but not eliminated, because of state budget cuts.

The Nevada Legislature in its last session approved the Empowerment Program, the goal of which is to give schools across the state a way to provide waivers for their students, allowing them to meet graduation requirements with more field trips, dual-credit classes and independent study opportunities than what normally is allowed.

“This is a chance to address specific challenges we have, since we are such a small school,” said Whittell High School Principal Sue Shannon.

Both the school district and the state must approve a school’s application before a school can become an Empowerment Program school. The Douglas County School District Board of Trustees approved the program application March 11, and Shannon said she’s now waiting for the state’s approval.

Originally, the program consisted of two components: Additional funding and waivers for the school.

The state no longer can provide additional funds, Shannon said, but the waivers can be pursued.

The waivers will open up more options to students, such as the opportunity to enroll in more dual-credit classes, where students take college classes to earn both high school and college credit, Shannon said.

Currently, students cannot earn more than six credits toward high school graduation through taking college classes. With a waiver, they would be able to take more.

For example, Shannon said if students wanted to enroll in a French language sequence, which isn’t offered at Whittell, they couldn’t under the current rules. With waivers, they would be able to.

The high school also will have its own independent-study program, Shannon said. The Douglas County School District does not offer an independent-study program at any of its schools, but Whittell will be able to through waivers, she said.

Shannon said additional funding opportunities for the high school will be pursued through grant applications.

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