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What Could CCSD Do With $750 Million?

Eric Westervelt/NPR

Jessica Adams formerly worked at the Planet Hollywood casino and resort. Now she teaches fourth grade at Robert Forbuss Elementary School.

The Oakland Raiders stadium might seem like a shoo-in to those keeping track of a blue-ribbon committee set up to study the $1.9 billion plan.

The plan calls for $750 million in taxpayer dollars from a hike room taxes, in addition to private dollars from billionaire Sheldon Adelson and the Raiders.

But just imagine if the state had $750 million to use on the Clark County School District — one of the most maligned and poorly ranked in the country — instead?

Las Vegas Sun reporter Ian Whitaker tackled that question in a recent article.

“It was really just a hypothetical look at what could you fund, because it is a lot of money, especially for a district like CCSD that has overcrowding problems,” he said.

Only a small portion of the money raised by the room tax goes to CCSD's coffers. The money is supposed to go to improvements in tourism infrastructure like an improved and expanded convention center or a 60,000-seat, domed stadium. 

Supporters of the stadium say it will draw tourists in not just for the 10 games a year an NFL team would play for other events and concerts.

According to Whitaker, pouring that amount of money into hiring teachers for instance would solve the district's teacher shortage.

“If you just applied the $750 million hiring teachers, I think the number was 7,500 teachers over ten years,” he said.

It could also be used to ease the overcrowding issue at some of the schools in the suburbs.  

“Overcrowding in Clark County is serious problem and it has been for years,” Whitaker said.

A school he visited at the beginning of the school year near Mountain's Edge had 1,300 students enrolled but it was only built for 700. 

“When you applied the $750 million just to building new schools, it would come out to 30 new schools,” he said. 

If the money was used just to repair old schools, CCSD could make the repairs and build six new schools, Whitaker said.

He also pointed out that if the money was divided among teachers to pay for supplies every teacher in the district would get $500 a year for the next 80 years.

However, like a supporter of the stadium told KNPR's State of Nevada last week, there is no plan to funnel the money to education.

"If there is a proposal out there to increase room tax to fund education, I haven't heard it,"said Andy Abboud, vice president of government relations and community development, Las Vegas Sands Corp.  

Whitaker said increasing education funding is really up to lawmakers.

“It really comes down to legislatures and the state and taking a long, hard look at what needs to be funded and what they’re willing to fund,” he said. 

Ian Whitaker, reporter, Las Vegas Sun

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Kristy Totten is a producer at KNPR's State of Nevada. Previously she was a staff writer at Las Vegas Weekly, and has covered technology, education and economic development for the Las Vegas Review-Journal. She's a graduate of the Missouri School of Journalism.