Friday, Oct. 31, 2008 | 2:36 p.m.
With only a few days remaining before the 2008 presidential election, more than 300 local high schoolers had the opportunity to discuss current issues and events with elected officials from across the Las Vegas Valley.
A "Mayor's Prayer Breakfast and Youth Town Hall Meeting" was held yesterday at Texas Station Hotel and Casino and was sponsored by the Interfaith Council of Southern Nevada and the United Way of Southern Nevada.
Thirty-eight high schools participated in a question-and-answer session that included Henderson Mayor James Gibson, Boulder City Mayor Roger Tobler, Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman, County Commissioner Rory Reid and North Las Vegas Mayor Michael Montandon.
One of the first questions asked was why there have been so many budget cuts across the Clark County School District.
Reid said he thinks the situation is being mishandled.
"Gov. (Jim) Gibbons said we need across-the-board cuts, and I think some programs are more important than others," Reid said. "I don't think that's the way to handle this situation. We need to protect our kids."
Noel Gordon, 17, of Coronado High School was grateful for the opportunity to hear from local officials about issues affecting teenagers.
"I think this was a really good idea," he said. "It gave us all a chance to see government officials in action."
Increasing community involvement and civic pride among local teenagers is at the forefront of Gordon's mind.
"We need to figure out a way to get more kids involved in those two areas of our communities," he said.
Melinda Curtin, 16, a junior from Basic High School, told Goodman there needs to be more education about teen pregnancy at her school.
"In ninth grade we had a health class that lasted half a semester, but we barely even talked about sex education," Curtin said. "Teen pregnancies are a big problem at our school."
Goodman replied that schools can't do everything.
"Sometimes I get the feeling that schools are being asked to take care of things that parents should be doing," he told. "I hope that when you all grow up and become parents, you'll be able to talk to your kids instead of relying on schools to teach them about sex."
One student asked the mayors what they thought about the possibility of dividing up the School District, the fifth largest in the nation, which could localize oversight but create challenges in ensuring that all schools are up to speed with one another in terms of funding and support.
"If it could be demonstrated that we could deliver a better quality of education by having multiple school districts, I think all of us up here would be in favor of it," Gibson said. "The key is if we can really improve things by doing that. It's really important for us to not leave any schools behind. We would want equality among all schools."
Jeff O’Brien can be reached at 990-8957 or firstname.lastname@example.org.