With thousands of new students entering its system each year, the Clark County School District is one of the fastest-growing school districts in the country.
Over the past decade, an average of 12,000 additional students have enrolled in county schools each year. While enrollment slowed to just 6000 new students in 2007-2008, the student body is expected to absorb 130,000 new students by 2018, for a total population of 443,000.
To meet the ongoing demands of its ballooning student population, 83 schools have been built in the last 10 years. Eight additional new schools (four elementary and four high schools) are currently under construction and 10 more will be built before the division’s capital improvement plan is fully realized. More than $450-million in renovations work presently awaits completion.
The district refers to its decade-long undertaking as, “One of the largest school construction and modernization programs in the nation’s history.” By the time the 1998 CIP is complete, 101 new schools will be built and 228 existing schools will benefit from other improvements. Over a quarter of the CIP budget, $1.5-billion, was set aside for renovating and modernizing or, in some cases, completely replacing existing schools.
The massive, $4.9-billion venture was financed by a portion of Clark County hotel room taxes, earmarks from the county real estate transactions and a percentage of property taxes.
CCSD is tasked with adapting to the region’s evolving education needs as the Las Vegas area continues to grow. Local development has presented the district with a variety of challenges, including the need to build schools in areas where land is in short supply or at a premium. In effort to overcome such obstacles, compact site plans have been developed for middle schools that use half the amount of space (10 acres rather than the standard 20 acres) and elementary schools the require five acres instead of the usual 12.5.
“Overcrowding is a reality the district continues to face, with many of our schools operating above their intended capacity,” CCSD acknowledged in the 2008-2009 Back to School Reporter. Hundreds of portable classrooms have been installed across the district to combat this situation, but while these help alleviate strain, they are not viewed as permanent resolutions to the problem. According to a CCSD spokesperson, “Portable classrooms are a temporary measure providing additional seating capacity to those schools that are in need and are therefore not a long-term fix."
The school district was using 1463 portable classrooms in June 2008, though not all of these were being used for instruction: About 50 were then being used for food services, grounds keeping, office space (including 27 at regional offices) and other uses. However, these numbers change frequently due to the area’s nearly 30 percent student mobility rate and corresponding shifts in facility needs.