Times are turbulent in the Clark County School District, and board member Chris Garvey wants to stay at the helm.
But challenger Rose Moore argues that the district needs a representative with a more critical eye to speak for 270,000 people in North Las Vegas and part of Las Vegas.
The candidates hold opposite perspectives on just about all major issues, and there are many facing the district caught in the midst of reform.
The nation's fifth-largest school district is abandoning No Child Left Behind and implementing a new curriculum, school-scoring system and soon a teacher evaluation system. On top of that, the School Board is again caught in a stalemate with the teachers union about working terms and is asking voters for a property tax increase, which Moore argues is out of the question.
"The money is there. I know it," Moore said of the district's budget, calling for a forensic audit.
But Garvey and the district contends otherwise and is asking for a tax increase to produce a maximum of $120 million a year for six years to renovate aging schools, buy equipment and construct schools. Property taxes would increase by about 21 cents per $100 of assessed valuation, meaning homeowners with a residence assessed at $100,000 would see an increase of $74.20 annually.
Garvey acknowledged that $6 a month is a lot to some families.
"I totally get it. I understand," she said, but aging schools are suffering. Students are sitting in leaky classrooms. Air conditioners are breaking weekly, causing closures until the equipment is patched up. Constituents will be really upset if schools are permanently closed because there's no money to keep 40-year-old buildings operable without new equipment. "We have to ask them now."
Moore argued that the dollars can be squeezed out of the budget but board members are too "passive, taking the word of the district."
"The reality is, there are only so many dollars," Garvey argued. "We don't fund education to its fullest potential here in Nevada."
Moore agreed with the School Board's stance on teacher pay raises for the 2011-12 and 2012-13 school years. The district wanted all employees, including teachers, to take a pay freeze to help balance the budget.
Moore also goes a step further, saying teachers shouldn't receive raises for seniority or taking higher education courses at any time, recession or not. They should only get raises for being promoted, she said.
Garvey didn't make such an assertion but said it's only "fair" for teachers to take a pay freeze when everyone else is doing the same. Teachers won raises in arbitration last year and are on the way to arbitration this year. But Garvey wants to come to the table with the union, she said.
"I'm committed to compromise," she said.
Contact reporter Trevon Milliard at tmilliard@review journal.com or 702-383-0279.