Clark County, Nev., got hit hard by the Great Recession. But with the economy turning around, thousands are once more flocking to the county, which is home to Las Vegas. But the population surge has caused trouble for a school district unable to create space fast enough to suit demand.
According to The New York Times, the signs of a recovering economy aren’t necessarily welcome to residents who are involved in local schools:
‘I was driving down the street the other day and someone said: ‘Look at that. They are building new homes over there. That’s good news,’' said Dave Flatt, a father of three who is president-elect of the Nevada Parent Teacher Association. ‘I said: ‘No, that is not. That is not good news.’'
The story paints a teacher’s nightmare of strained capacity:
- Overcrowding: First grade classes with expected enrollment of 16 students have 25 students.
- Capacity: Elementary schools are 17.6 percent over capacity.
- Classrooms: There are 2,230 trailers in use in county schools, and they “resemble those used in California to accommodate prisoners.”
- Teacher shortage: Clark County school district has 650 vacancies out of 18,000 teaching positions.
According to the Las Vegas Sun, a 2012 tax initiative would have added over $600 million to the school district’s budget, but voters rejected it by a 2-to-1 margin, citing concerns about the economy and the district’s management of its budget; oldera voter especially seemed against the proposal. (Perhaps a reflection of what Education Week Teacher opinion blogger Nancy Flanagan cites as a “me-first” mentality.)
In the two years since that proposal failed, then, a lot of the disrepair that the district feared would happen seems to have happened.
Mary Ann Kramar, a first-grade teacher at Forbuss Elementary School in Las Vegas, said that teachers needed more help and resources, but will hold things together.
“We do our best,” she said.
Image: Bert Kaufmann/Flickr Creative Commons
A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.