Editorial: Schools need funds

The Carson City School Board shouldn't feel like it needs to apologize for asking for a bond to finance $18 million worth of improvements to schools.

The work needs to be done. In fact, many would argue that $18 million is not enough to bring the district's facilities up to snuff.

Operations director Mike Mitchell has called it a "no frills" bond proposal, and there is little in the plans that goes beyond basic maintenance, repair and upgrading of schools that has been deferred over the years.

Asphalt for parking lots. Heating and air-conditioning units. New phones. Playground irrigation and drainage. Bathroom renovations. New windows.

Reading the list, it's sometimes hard to tell that these projects are intended for school. Only when you get to a handful of items (enlarge the high school's library, $45,000; add a chemistry lab and biology lab, $375,000) does one get the sense that we're trying to do something to benefit the education of our children.

Nevertheless, board members still are skittish from the 1996 defeat of a $48 million bond proposal, which would have built a couple of schools. Since then, the pressure of crowding has eased - temporarily, at least - and officials have taken steps, such as redistricting among the schools, to try to get the most efficient use from the facilities.

In other words, taxpayers told the district to get by as best you can. And it did.

In the meantime, the district has been paying off past bond debts annually. The amount of your property tax supporting Carson City schools has gone down 18 cents over the past five years.

The reason you haven't noticed, however, is that City Hall has been gradually increasing its property tax. City officials have been able to justify the increases, as they did again this year with a planned 4.2-cent increase.

But, again, nobody paid much attention because the bottom line of property taxes hasn't changed dramatically.

School officials should proceed with their plans, ask the voters for $18 million in bonds in November and make their case with the facts. If the voters don't want their taxes raised to fix Carson City's schools, perhaps it's City Hall who should apologize.


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