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Union should stay, period

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By Optic Editorial Board

The West Las Vegas school board is doing the right thing in reconsidering its previous decision to close Union Elementary School. As the best-performing school in the district, Union should not only remain open, but it should be held up as an educational model for other schools in the district.
Last month, the board voted to move Union’s students to Tony Serna Elementary to make room for the Family Partnership School. Not surprisingly, the decision caused a stir among parents and educators, not just because school patrons always hate to see a school closed, but because of Union’s successes. For years now, its scores have exceeded all others in the area. Last year’s state results showed that Union’s students were 72 percent proficient in math and 76 percent proficient in reading — the best scores in both Las Vegas school districts.
The reason for such success is a curiosity, since the school’s leadership has changed over the years and since the school is in a low- and moderate-income area of town (where resources can get thin). Moreover, the physical building itself is not one of the better ones in town.

What the school does have, however, is a strong and active parent-teacher organization. Perhaps that’s the ingredient that makes this school so successful. After all, it’s a well-known fact that the most successful students have the most involved parents.

Whatever the reasons, Union should serve as a laboratory for how to do it right; it shouldn’t be closed because of facility needs. The Family Partnership, a valuable school in and of itself, needs a new facility, but surely there are other options.

Interestingly, this isn’t the first time the district has considered closing Union. A few years ago, the financially strapped district considered closure, but parents loudly protested and the school board backed down.

The district’s relatively new superintendent, Ruben Cordova, deserves credit for supporting Union.

“It seems like this concept has been pushed upon this district for a number of years, and I haven’t been able to find any support for that notion at the local level,” he told the school board last week.

If that’s the case, we have a suggestion for the school board: Take it off the table, once and for all.