HENDERSON (KTNV) — As schools throughout Southern Nevada continue working to stretch every dollar, schools in the City of Henderson are getting a little extra help as the city is using redevelopment fees and marijuana business license fees to help.
The city has awarded nearly $1.5 million in redevelopment fees and recreational marijuana business license fees to 32 schools for the 2018-2019 school year.
Simply looking inside this classroom at Robert Taylor Elementary you may not see any problems, but Principal Kim Basham says when she took over the school two years ago she learned a lot can be hidden beneath the surface.
"My largest learning curve that first year was the significance and the impact that trauma and stress has on our youth," Basham said.
While reports show Henderson schools outperform the Clark County School District as a whole, Basham and her teachers have huge barriers to overcome when it comes to teaching their students.
"We provide 3 meals a day, three hot meals a day and worked to extend our before and after-school programs," Basham said.
The principal is turning the one-star school into a community center of sorts in hopes of improving the students' education.
As part of that effort, she pitched the idea of bringing counselors to the campus to city leaders.
"Our students come to school somewhat stressed by the things they face and the challenges that surround them," Basham said.
This as the city has awarded grants to help its schools.
This year, nearly $1.5 million was pushed to projects at 32 schools inside the city. $148,000 of that money coming from marijuana business license fees the city council set aside for education.
The marijuana contribution is expected to grow to around $450,000 for the coming year,
"We are investing in things that the principals are coming to us and saying this might make a difference and we are looking for evidence-based solutions whenever we can," Assistant City Manager Stephanie Garcia-Vause said.
Through that effort, Basham earned a $100,000 grant to bring counselors to her campus, as well as Brown Middle School and Basic High School to help students with the biggest stressors.
The counselors are part of the Invo Multidisciplinary Program to Address Childhood Trauma, known as IMPACT, where they work on identifying the stressors in childrens' lives.
"Things like divorce, family members possibly drug addicted, alcohol abuse, incarcerations. Lack of resources, food, clothing, heat," Basham said. "Focusing on our students with the most significant behavioral difficulties. The things keeping them from learning in the classroom or even being in the classroom."
The counselors work with the teachers to identify children in need and get their parents consent before offering treatment.
At Taylor Elementary, that money has helped 33 students or about five percent of those who go there.
"That small number impacts classrooms across the building," Basham said. "We increase their on-task learning time in the classroom."
While she easily sees the impact throughout her school, Basham is working with the counselors to provide city leaders with hard data on the results the program is generating
If you are interested in being part of the city's effort you can attend the Community Education Advisory Board meetings.