Even retired people without kids in the local schools need to make their voices heard
It was a surprise indeed to hear such a united stand by parents of Virgin Valley students at the Sep. 4 meeting with officials from the Clark County School District (CCSD) when they asked for a new high school gymnasium. You would expect to hear some parents ask for new books, updated technology, larger rooms, or even a new building since the high school is now 25 years old.
Nope. All of them asked for a new gymnasium at the high school that gives students an opportunity to participate and excel in sports because as Amy Marshall said “it keeps the kids motivated to keep their academics up.”
The majority of Mesquite’s population is retired and, let’s face facts, don’t have a real interest in school-related issues. Most of Mesquite’s residents are off spending their children’s inheritance instead. And most of the local recreational facilities and organizations are geared towards grandma, not grandchild.
Travel in the circles of young parents and school-age children though and you’ll constantly hear them lament that there’s not much for the kids to do in Mesquite. As one parent put it at Friday’s meeting “we don’t have a lot to offer our kids like Vegas does.”
“It’s a quality of education and a quality of life issue,” Kendall Toone explained to CCSD officials. “Our kids have to leave very early to travel the distance necessary to participate in tournaments and sports activities. They arrive home very late. That cuts in a family’s quality of life when they can’t spend as much time together.”
The school district recently received authorization to continue a 1998 bonding issue that stands to reap $4.1 billion dollars over the next ten years. Property owners won’t see a rise in the current tax rate of 55.34 cents on every hundred dollars since the bond authorization only continues the existing rate. The District received $4.9 billion dollars through the last authorization.
However, as one parent put it “the Virgin Valley won’t get anything from this. We aren’t as big and don’t matter as much.”
Previous expenditures put some credence to that since Virgin Valley High School only received $12 million from the last bonding. As Justin Ludvigson said, “if the Virgin Valley has one percent of the students we should get one percent of the money. That would be $41 million. But we all know that won’t happen.”
He’s right. That’s not going to happen. However, CCSD officials and the Virgin Valley Board of Trustee representative Chris Garvey need to fight – hard – for the one thing that parents have united upon. A new high school gym.
When Garvey said she’s got Title IX issues with the current gym she’s absolutely right. It’s surprising the District hasn’t been sued over the inequality girls experience in their sporting facilities. There is only one girls’ locker room at the current gym. When local girls host visiting teams, they are forced to use a classroom between and during games. The girls’ dance team is forced to practice outside according to another parent.
Title IX federal law requires that girls have the same sporting facilities and opportunities as boys do. So the request for a new gym isn’t just one of fantasy – it’s the law.
Parents of boys’ wrestling teams described totally inadequate facilities saying the boys had to practice in a classroom and then share the gym floor with the boys basketball teams to run their required sprints. With four boys winning college scholarships for their wrestling prowess and several state titles, how much more could the team do if they had adequate facilities to practice and host tournaments.
Which brings us to another problem parents pointed out to CCSD officials and Trustee Garvey. Much of the funding for sports now comes from parents or fundraising efforts by the teams. With the current inadequate gymnasium facilities, Virgin Valley sports team are almost completely blocked from hosting tournaments, a major fundraising source by other schools in the district.
So not only are local kids put at a financial disadvantage through lack of fundraising opportunities, they also have to travel a great distance to participate in tournaments at other schools. It’s at least a two hour trip down and two hours back for kids to play other schools in and around Las Vegas. No other school in the district has that problem.
Last time around, parents asked, no begged, for a new high school gym and received a promise they would get it. Instead, school district officials took it upon themselves to divert the funding for infrastructure upgrades like new roofing and heating and air conditioning. Unfortunately, the air conditioning doesn’t work much better now than before it was fixed two years ago.
And, of the 47 high schools in the entire Clark County district, only two have not gotten a new gymnasium in recent history – Virgin Valley and SECCA in the Vegas Metro area.
This time Board Trustee Garvey and CCSD officials need to listen to the parents and give the local high school students what they want the most – a new, modern, adequate gymnasium that meets the Title IX federal laws.
The public, even retired people without kids in the local schools, needs to continue uniting their voices in the online survey at www.ccsd.net/CIPSurvey and help make sure the taxpayers in the Virgin Valley get some return on their dollar.
Oh, and fix the high school building’s air conditioning correctly this time around.