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April 17, 2014

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Local Government:

Council’s vote may boost Internet service downtown, education performance at low-performing schools

Expanding Internet access and boosting schools are among the items that will be up for discussion before the Las Vegas City Council when it holds its regularly scheduled meeting at 9 a.m. Wednesday at city hall, 495 S. Main St. The council’s recommending committee also will weigh in on several proposed ordinances when it meets at 9 a.m. Tuesday.

Free Internet comes to downtown

After months of planning and testing, the city of Las Vegas is getting ready to switch on its new wireless Internet service, which will provide free access throughout downtown.

The Internet will be rolled out in two phases, the first covering an area with boundaries of Charleston Boulevard on the south, U.S. 95 to the north, Interstate 15 to the west and Eighth Street to the east. Phase two will add an area bound by Charleston to the north, Wyoming Avenue to the south, Las Vegas Boulevard to the east and Main Street to the west.

The service, including installing and maintaining the necessary technology, is being provided free to the city by its private partner, LV.Net, which will generate revenue through advertisements displayed to users.

The council will consider a memorandum of understanding with LV.Net as part of its consent agenda Wednesday, which, if approved, would give the company the go-ahead to power up its downtown network.

Funding for education

The council will consider a pair of items Wednesday that could direct tens of thousands of dollars toward boosting education performance in some of the city’s worst schools.

The first item is a two-year agreement with Teach For America to help pay for some of the nonprofit's teacher recruitment and training efforts. If approved, the city would provide up to $62,500 per year — or about $2,500 each for 25 teachers — out of its general fund. These teachers would be clustered at 10 of the city’s lowest-performing schools.

The request for funding comes only a month after Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton cut $1.5 million for Teach For America out of the state’s higher education budget, questioning why the massive nonprofit needed state support.

In a separate item, the city will consider a $35,000 payment to Communities in Schools of Nevada to fund a site coordinator who will organize literacy improvement efforts at Rex Bell Elementary School.

Bills on the way

The three council members who make up the recommending committee will have five new ordinances to consider when they meet Tuesday.

Of interest is a bill sponsored by councilman Steve Ross to establish multi-jurisdictional business licenses that will allow certain companies who operate throughout the county, such as contractors or landscapers, to obtain a single license. Before, a company needed a license from each municipality it did business in, which could lead to hundreds of dollars in additional costs per year.

The recommending committee will vote on the multi-jurisdictional licensing bill and the other ordinances Tuesday, and if they pass, they’ll go before the full council for approval at their Aug. 7 meeting.

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