Schools lay down the rules

Most people watched news coverage of the Iowa presidential caucuses to see who was winning.

Clark County School District administrators were looking for how much pie and potato salad participants spilled onto schoolhouse floors.

What they saw led them to impose restrictions on the Republicans and Democrats using 257 local schools as caucus sites.

No food or drinks are to be served.

No signage can be taped, glued, nailed, staked or tacked onto any portion of the school, inside or out.

Democrats are to arrive at schools no earlier than 9:30 a.m. so Republicans have time to finish their caucus.

Both political parties agreed to the terms, but some of the operatives for individual campaigns began questioning the need to comply last week, said Joyce Haldeman, associate superintendent of district government relations.

In a last-ditch attempt to make sure that the rules are followed, Haldeman wrote to Nevada Democratic Caucus Director Jayson Sime on Thursday to remind him of the conditions.

“Several principals have notified me that operatives from the Democratic campaigns have contacted them to announce their intent to arrive on campus at 7 a.m., either to set up for their caucuses or to conduct rallies for their candidates,” Haldeman said in a letter that also was copied to the principals.

“In addition, campaigns have announced their intent to serve food and drinks on school property to caucus attendees.”

Both actions would violate the facility use agreement the district has with the parties. Haldeman said that by arriving at sites 21/2 hours early, Democrats will be disrupting the Republican caucus. The prohibition on food and drink is intended to prevent damage to school property and equipment.

“I want this to be a good experience for everyone who participates in the caucus,” Haldeman said Friday. “We’re just asking people to exercise restraint.”

Nevada Democratic Party Deputy Executive Director Kirsten Searer said it was her expectation that everyone would abide by the rules.

Steve Wark, Nevada Republican consultant, said he didn’t expect any problems either.

“I sympathize with what the school district is going through,” Wark said. “As long as the taxpayers are being asked to foot the bill to a certain extent, I think these are reasonable requests.”

Wark said that the overlap of the Republican and Democratic events might lead to a certain amount of “saber rattling,” but he didn’t expect it to amount to much. The Republicans will be at 31 school sites from 8 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Democrats have 257 schools booked from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“We would expect the Democrats to offer us the same courtesy we would offer them,” Wark said.

At Rancho High School, Principal Bob Chesto doesn’t know what to expect of the caucuses. Requests have been made by the parties to use 80 classrooms and both gymnasiums for the event, but as of Friday, he hadn’t heard from organizers for either party.

“We’ve not had any issues to report,” Chesto said. “But we haven’t seen a soul.”

What Chesto does know is that whatever happens today has to be dealt with then. Students will return to school Tuesday to start a new semester, and everything has to be in working order.

“They can’t make work for us,” Chesto said. “We have to be ready to rock and roll on Tuesday.”

Contact reporter Lisa Kim Bach at or (702) 383-0287.


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