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$5.3 billion school bond proposal still in works; former first ladies stand ready to give support

Updated Thursday, April 12, 2012 | 10:33 a.m.

As the Clark County School District contemplates a new, $5.3 billion capital program, four former Nevada first ladies filed paperwork Tuesday to form a political action committee to support the potential ballot initiative.

With the 1998 bond program comes to a close, the School District is likely to seek public approval for a new capital campaign, which may raise property taxes as much as $74 a year on a $100,000 home. The district estimates it will need to issue $5.3 billion in school construction bonds to repair and modernize its aging school buildings over the next decade. Voter approval is needed for the School District to increase its debt limit.

Former first lady Sandy Miller filed paperwork with the Nevada Secretary of State's Office to form a PAC to help get the vote out for the potential school bond program.

Sandy Miller, Secretary of State Ron Miller's mother, will chair the PAC, according to the PAC filing. Other members of the PAC include former first ladies Bonnie Bryan, Dawn Gibbons and Dema Guinn.

Las Vegas Sun columnist Jon Ralston first broke the news Tuesday afternoon.

The purpose of the PAC is "to advocate for the passage of a ballot question in support of capital projects for public schools," according to PAC documents filed by attorney Scott Taylor. A call for comment was not immediately returned Tuesday.

For the School District to issue bonds, its revenues - from property and local school taxes - must exceed its debt on previous bond measures, which are still being repaid. Because of the depressed housing market, the district does not expect to have the bonding capacity for another six years, according to the district's chief financial officer Jeff Weiler.

However, by 2018, construction relief may come too late, Weiler said, noting that some of the district's oldest and most dilapidated schools may need to be closed for safety reasons. Weiler proposed two bond options during a February School Board meeting to fund a new capital campaign, which would require voter approval.

If the new capital bond program were approved, the majority of the money - about $3.4 billion - would go toward renovating and replacing old schools. About $1 billion would go to new technology and equipment for schools. The rest of the bond money would help build new schools in growing regions of the valley, and help the district strive for "educational equity" among its schools.

All seven School Board members expressed support of a bond program during a February meeting. The School District must submit ballot questions to the Clark County election department by June to be included on the November ballot.

The School District is currently conducting research on the feasibility of a property tax increase. The PAC presumably would help the district conduct focus groups and research ways to target voters to approve the bond initiative.

Fitch Ratings maintained the School District's bond rating at AA- in February, after downgrading it from AA to AA- in February 2011. Fitch analysts in February said the financial outlook for the district remained negative.

"As a result of the severe tax base contraction, the district will likely be forced to either restructure debt or raise the tax rate above the level promised to voters in the 1998 bond authorization," according to the Fitch report.

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  1. No, no and no. Since Dwight Jones is threatening to lay off 11% of the teachers in the school district, CCSD should just close the old and dilapidated school buildings and consolidate any teachers from those buildings who survive layoffs into remaining "safe" schools.

    CCSD cannot be trusted to spend borrowed money responsibly. With legions of administrators making $100K plus base salary and a school police department that eats upwards of $40 million of the so called "education" budget each year, there's plenty of waste to cut before the district borrows dime one against my home.

  2. NO TO ACROSS THE BOARD PROPERTY TAX HIKES! If there is any additional increase, it should be based on the children attending school. These are the families that use the service so they should be obligated to pay for it. Seems like common sense don't you think??

    I say if you have more than 2 children actively attending school, then apply a surtax to any additional child. Seems fair to those people with few or no children in the household? Don't you think??

    It seems the whole tax system is based on who can subsidize others without putting their fair share into the system. RIDICULOUS!!

  3. Bonds, taxes, fees....... How does it feel to be a pincushion!

  4. Start a Nevada lottery and write it in black ink 99% of profits go to education.

    Done.

  5. A full review and claw back of ALL public employee salaries and benefits should be done if more money is needed. Property taxes are already way to high and it's easier for government to just gouge the taxpayers than do the tough work and get salaries and expenses in line. If they need some money get it from the $175k per year fire dept.thieves.
    NO NEW TAXES.

  6. God, the school district went nuts building new Union overpriced buildings in the 80's and until today. Now they want big money to repair the pieces of crap that have fallen apart? What are we missing here? Just more administrative BS plus Steve Ross' undue influence to increase property taxes...As usual.

  7. Enough already! There are so many bonds driving our property taxes already. Let's sunset some of them and stop adding to the problem. CCSD schools are relatively new. Rural Nevada has many schools built in the 1940's, like Washoe CSD. There has been so much talk to divert bond funds to other things that they just keep spending and spending. Cut compensation down to reasonable levels. 51st in results yet we spend about average or normal throughout the U.S. And the U.S. spends so much more per pupil than anywhere and everywhere.

  8. When teachers and PTA's organize to send groceries home with illegals and anchor babies. NOT A CHANCE. We pay them to teach K-12 not encourage illegals who are already stealing medical services, housing, food stamps.....

  9. Nothing but money. Continue to tax until there is nothing left to take.

  10. This needs closer scrutiny since it breaks down to $18,000 per student! I can think of better ways to enhance education with that kind of money than investing in a building!