Clark County schools are back in session in just a few weeks, with new campuses opening across the valley. But in Laughlin, the same frustration remains.
The community has wanted a new elementary school for years and nothing has changed. So, Laughlin decided to try and make changes on its own.
“So, this is our area,” said Cheryl Crow, School Organization Team. “The kids can come out from the classrooms and play in the dirt. That’s really exciting for them.”
Her sarcasm disguises the truth.
When Laughlin’s 4th and 5th graders have recess, where they play, there isn’t much.
“When I was 9 or 10, I didn’t enjoy sitting in the dirt,” Crow said.
It’s a patch of land on the Laughlin Junior and Senior High School campus. Last year, 4th and 5th grade students started taking class there.
The arrangement worked out well. All that’s missing, is a playground.
Crow is on the School Organization Team and a vocal community leader.
“We’ve reached out to people that make money in Laughlin to donate to this project. The county hasn’t given us a nickel. The school district hasn’t given us a nickel,” she said.
Crow says $30,000 was raised from local businesses. This rough idea was drawn up of what the playground would look like.
But now, Crow says red tape has gotten in the way.
“They’re dragging, dragging, dragging everything out,” Crow said.
It’s a frustrating delay from a district, crow says, doesn’t give Laughlin much.
“With all the schools being built in the valley, and because we don’t have the huge numbers they have, our kids aren’t as important,” she said.
Laughlin’s 4th and 5th graders used to go to Bennett Elementary. It’s an older campus, mostly portable classrooms covered in stucco. Infrastructure problems are persistent. The lack of a replacement from CCSD forced Principal Dawn Estes to move the students to the high school campus last year.
“I do feel that somewhere along the line, Laughlin was forgotten,” Estes said. “I feel that my students deserve the same facility that any student in Clark County deserves. And it sometimes goes beyond a playground.”
Principal Estes says the playground delays involve insurance and other permitting issues, nothing unusual.
But if things aren’t sorted out soon, Laughlin could lose a key grant that would help pay for the project and once again, the rural community would be left behind.
“They don’t need to sit in the dirt in a Clark County school because there’s nothing for them to do,” Crow said.
There will be roughly 500 students at Laughlin High this school year. It could be six more months before playground construction can begin.