Over 125 parents and students attended a public input meeting with representatives from the Clark County School District (CCSD) on Friday, Sept. 4 and one thing was clear – everyone wants a new high school gymnasium.
“We’ve had five of these meetings around the school district and this is the largest audience we’ve had yet,” CCSD Board of Trustee member Chris Garvey remarked. She represents the Virgin Valley schools on the Board.
“We have unique needs because we are so far removed from the Las Vegas area,” explained Amy Marshall, President of the Virgin Valley Community Education Advisory Board. “We want a new gym that will give all our sports teams the time and space they need. We have an increasing number of students participating in sports. It keeps the kids motivated to keep their academic levels up.”
That was the main message a dozen more parents told Garvey and other high level officials from CCSD who were in Mesquite to explain how the District intends to implement a continuation of the 1998 school bond funding that was approved in the 2015 State Legislature session. The bonding authority ended in 2010 causing the District to suspend construction of new schools and renovations on others.
After receiving the rollover authority, the District stands to gain $4.1 billion dollars over the next ten years. Jim McIntosh, CCSD Chief Financial Officer, told the audience that the level of funding was only half of what the District determined it needs to improve existing schools and build new ones. “The need is greater than the funding,” McIntosh lamented. “None of the bond funds can be used for daily operational and maintenance nor teacher salaries. It’s still not enough for what we need.”
All residents in the county, parents, students, and anyone else, can take an online survey to help the District prioritize the use of taxpayer money. The survey must be completed by Sep. 10 and is accessible at www.ccsd.net/CIPSurvey.
“We have about one percent of the total number of students in the whole district,” Justin Ludvigson said. “If the District was fair, that would mean we would get one percent of the total $4.1 billion dollars. That would give us $41 million dollars here. We all know that’s not going to happen,” he quipped.
CCSD Assistant Superintendent of Facilities Blake Cumbers told the group that the District wants to implement spending the bond money “as fast as we can. We want you to consider the options we face and give us your input through the survey. Do we bring older schools up to today’s standards through renovations or do we tear them down and rebuild? The Virgin Valley High School is now 25 years old.”
“Promises were made to us in the past,” Mesquite City Councilman Kraig Hafen told Garvey. “Moapa Valley got a new gym. We were told we would get a new one also but we didn’t get it. We have 207 more students than Moapa Valley has. Our students have to use the city-owned recreation center sometimes because the high school gym doesn’t have enough adequate facilities. What happened to the $12 million dollars we supposedly got from the last bonds?”
“The previous Trustee representative made that promise,” Garvey clarified. “Things got pushed down the priority list. Technology upgrades were pushed to the forefront instead. The District spent $12 million on building renovations instead.”
She added that the figure included a four million dollar repair to the air conditioning system. Some parents complained later that the HVAC system still doesn’t work well.
After encouraging the parents and students to unite their voices this time, she added “The Bond Oversight Committee heard Moapa’s voices about their desire for a new gym. The Moapa Valley parents and students were very loud in their requests.”
“We need a new gym. We don’t have any capacity for all the kids to practice all the different sports,” Tonya Walker complained. “The kids have opportunities taken away from them. I think this is just a courtesy meeting and that the Virgin Valley won’t be getting anything. We aren’t as big as other schools so we don’t matter as much.”
“This is the largest meeting we’ve had so far,” Garvey reiterated. “Don’t discount yourselves. Besides, I’ve got some Title IX issues at this school.”
Indeed, the current gymnasium has two boys locker rooms while only one for girls. “When we have other girls teams visit up here for games, our girls have to use a classroom during the games. At least the boys have two locker rooms. The girls are not getting equality with this gym and we need a new one,” Jesse Whipple, father of four girls, remarked.
Title IX federal law requires that boys and girls have equal sporting opportunity and facilities.
“Got it,” Garvey declared when she was challenged to fight for a new gymnasium.
Cumbers explained to the group that the closing date for people to take the survey is Sep. 10. From Sep. 11 through 16, the survey input would be analyzed and then presented to the Bond Oversight Committee on Sep. 17. The decisions on prioritizing construction projects would then be presented to the entire CCSD Board of Trustees at their meeting on Sep. 24.
“All of these meetings are open to the public and you are more than welcome to attend them and let your voices be heard,” Garvey told the parents and students.