(This is the next in a series of articles on improvements to Carson City schools planned if an $18 million bond issue is approved by voters.)
Although the bulk of the proposed $18 million school bond is designated to improve safety and maintenance, Carson High School's portion would serve a higher purpose - preparing students to go to college.
"The vast majority of our kids and their families want to see the students go off to college," said Principal Glen Adair. "We support that. But in that, they need chemistry and biology and these types of classes. The truth is, whether the bond issue passes or not, we're going to need new science labs."
Adair said about 92 percent of the students take four years of science, and he expects that number to grow as more students take advantage of the Millennium Scholarship.
"The Millennium Scholarship will draw residents to the state of Nevada and the Millennium Scholarship is a function of the secondary schools," he said. "I see folks moving in to take advantage of the fine curriculum and the offerings of the state."
The scholarships provide money to send every Nevada high-school student with a B-average to Nevada colleges and universities.
Upper-level science classes are of particular interest to Adair because, unlike math and English which can be taught anywhere, classes such as chemistry and biology require special equipment.
As it stands, the chemistry classroom houses seven counters behind the rows of desks. The labs are designed to comfortably accommodate about 25 people but Adair said 30-32 students crowd into the classroom.
"That means that 10 students cannot equally participate in the lab," he said. "We have seat space but no lab space."
As the only high school in town, Adair said it has to be able to serve the needs of all the students.
"We've got to get these kids maxed out on their abilities to move on in life," he said. "If you can't get all the kids in the right classes at the right time, then asphalt doesn't matter."
Director of Operations Mike Mitchell agreed that curriculum should be the top priority, but he has also included asphalt repair and other maintenance issues in the proposed improvements at the site, which total about $2.4 million.
"There's a tremendous amount of asphalt at this school," he said. "About half of it will need to be repaired."
Upgrades are also set for the east wing of the school, which was not improved in the 1990 bond.
"They're 1971 systems that have handled 2,000 students every day for the past 30 years," Mitchell said. "They're tired."
The school would also be installed with air conditioning if the bond passes.
The bond is not expected to raise taxes, but if it does not pass the tax rate could go down. The cost of the bond is about $39 annually for the owner of a $100,000 home.
"This is a really nice school," said Adair. "We have a lot of great people who work here," he said. "It's what goes on inside a good-looking building that really makes it work."
School: Carson High School
Built: 1970 (remodeled in 1993)
Number of students enrolled: 2,263
Estimated cost of improvements: $2.4 million