EDITORIAL: School construction

The Clark County School District has an enrollment growth crisis, and the only fix is added classroom capacity. But with precious little bond money left for capital projects, the School Board is prepared to spend up to $34 million tearing down and rebuilding an existing school instead of constructing new schools.

The district has about $54 million remaining from its 1998 capital improvement plan. It’s just about enough money to build two new elementary schools in fast-growing southwest valley neighborhoods that need them right now. Instead, the district’s bond oversight committee has recommended replacing Rex Bell Elementary at a cost of $29 million, or replacing Boulder City High School and improving West Preparatory Academy at a cost of $34 million. The School Board is expected to approve one of the plans at today’s meeting.

If the board expects voters to approve a construction bond extension in 2016, trustees need to convince the electorate that every tax dollar is being spent wisely. That trustees today would even consider making a campus reconstruction a higher priority than new school construction boggles the mind. To say nothing of the board’s expected vote today to approve a contract that gives teachers $54 million in pay raises with no nexus to performance, based on seniority and graduate school credits.

New schools must come first. Replacement campuses can wait. Trustees must reject the bond oversight committee’s recommendations. If they don’t, they’ll create the first argument against a bond extension in 2016.

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