LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — In three weeks, Clark County students will return to school despite a budget shortfall, the threat of a strike, and the lingering issue of deans across the district.
So what is CCSD’s solution? More money!
On Thursday night, trustees and administrators met with commissioners to see if more local taxes could close an $18 million budget gap. The proposal is to increase the sales tax by a quarter-percent, and that money would go straight to education.
That increase would raise approximately $108 million per year. Commissioners did not vote on the proposed measure Thursday night, but they did agree to continue the discussion.
Another issue the two boards discussed had to do with public use of school facilities. County commissioners have expressed a lot of concern that some schools don’t hold up their end of the bargain of an agreement called “open schools, open doors.”
It’s an issue that has been brewing for awhile. Then-Commission Chair Steve Sisolak blasted the school district several times in recent years over people not being able to use school facilities during off-hours. For example: Senior citizens weren’t able to walk on the track during the early morning hours.
The sentiment has since been amplified boiled over with commissioners in the last couple of weeks.
“So, me as a taxpayer, I would use it for our non-profit and that would go toward helping the community,” said Diana Bonilla, resident.
“I think everybody should have access to that, you know, as long as they’re using it in the right aspects,” said Ashley Tomlin, resident.
Many of the Clark County School District’s 360 schools are available for public use through the open schools, open doors agreement between local governments and CCSD. But county commissioners have been expressing frustration for years that there’s no uniformity in how the policy is applied.
“You can call someone at CCSD, and they’ll send you to about four different people, and then it’ll point all fingers and roads lead back to the principal, who then says there’s another hierarchy,” said Lawrence Weekly, Clark County Commission.
Superintendent Dr. Jesus Jara says about a third of the district’s schools are on BLM land, so it carries restrictions.
So, I think that we can then work together to find ways to address some of the challenges and solutions between our legal counsel and the BLM attorneys to find solutions around that work,” Jara said.
“I reached out; I called the Department of Interior this morning, and the BLM, and my understanding is it’s a very simple addendum and a $100 application fee to kind of change that conversation,” said Marilyn Kirkpatrick, Clark County Commission Chair.
Jara told both the commissioners and the school board that he would have district staff pursue the BLM’s permitting process.
Representatives from the cities of Las Vegas, North Las Vegas, and Henderson all testified they support a collaborative approach with CCSD as it relates to using facilities.