School bond necessary, won’t raise taxes | NevadaAppeal.com

School bond necessary, won’t raise taxes

Abby Johnson

What’s necessary, well-planned and won’t raise your taxes?

That would be Carson City Ballot Question 2 (CC2), which asks voters for permission to bond to replace the toxic mold-infested portables at Grace Bordewich Elementary School with a permanent two story building.

The portables were demolished this summer, and the school district is renting space from the Brewery Arts Center at the old St. Theresa’s church as a temporary solution.

When toxic mold was discovered last October, school district officials realized that a permanent building was needed to replace the moldy modulars that housed the school library, the music program, English as a Second Language, and special education services for the hearing impaired and autistic.

With that need in mind, when the bond passes, they plan to build an addition to the existing two story Bordewich elementary school. This will enable the first- and second-graders, now housed at the neighboring Bray building (the blue school) to be near the lunchroom, music and the library. Currently, youngsters at Bray lose about 80 minutes of instruction time per week tramping to and from their activities.

These days, security and safety issues have become as important as educational results and teaching time. The current campus-style layout which was practical when Bordewich was a high school is now a huge challenge for teachers and administrators who need to ensure the safety and security of children in their care.

The bond funds would also be used to remodel Bray where district-wide special education support services, now located at Seeliger Elementary, will be consolidated. The early childhood special education programs at Gleason will also move to Bray, on a secure campus in an elementary school atmosphere. That move will also free up space at Gleason for much needed districtwide training space.

As a fortunate result of these consolidations, Seeliger Elementary will be remodeled to provide three new classrooms for its large enrollment.

The Bordewich-Bray site has been dedicated to public education since the 1920s. First as a high school, then as a K-8 primary and middle school, and now as an elementary school, public education has been happening on King Street for a very long time.

The proposed bond would enable the continued efficient and safe use of this historic school site, and would extend the useful life of the existing infrastructure by adapting the buildings and grounds to today’s educational needs.

Because of the way education is funded in Nevada, school districts have limited options for a situation like this. Unlike water districts, which are encouraged to set aside funds for long-term capital improvements, there is no such mechanism for school districts, although the long-term protection of their buildings and grounds is essential.

The district receives funds from the state annually for operations and maintenance. However, the annual upkeep demands are greater than the funds received. Instead, they must go to the voters for permission to bond to borrow funds for major capital improvement projects such as this one.

In this situation, if the bond does not pass, the annual funding that the district receives for long term maintenance would be gutted in order to purchase or lease portables. Until the Legislature overhauls the educational funding system, a bond is the best option.

And the best thing about this bond is that it will not raise taxes. It will extend the existing school tax rate to pay for the additional funds, but our property taxes will not increase as a result of passing this bond.

With the approval of this bond, education will continue to flourish at the centrally-located school site where Nevada governors were educated and a Pulitzer Prize winning author learned the craft of writing from Miss Bordewich herself.

Carson City Ballot Question 2, the school bond, is necessary; it’s well-planned; it won’t raise your taxes; and it’s the responsible thing to do for education in Carson City this November.

Abby Johnson consults on rural community development, public involvement and nuclear waste issues. She is married, lives in Carson City, and has one high school-aged child.