Las Vegas Sun

June 16, 2021

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School Board makes peace with Moapa by reinstating citizen-led panel

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Chris Garvey was elected to the Clark County School Board in November 2008.

Residents of Moapa Valley and Clark County School Board members have finally buried the hatchet on a months-long dispute that threatened the rural community’s ability to advocate for its four public schools.

School Board trustees, led by Chris Garvey, voted unanimously Thursday night to reinstate the feisty, citizen-led school advisory board in the small agricultural town an hour northeast of Las Vegas.

It was the culmination of weeks of behind-the-scenes work to reinstate CCSD’s community education advisory boards, also known as CEABs. The boards, which are officially sanctioned by CCSD, are organized and populated by parents and constituents who want to come together to address local issues and concerns.

“This gives me great pleasure,” said Garvey, whose district encompasses a vast swath of northeast Las Vegas and Clark County including Moapa Valley, Logandale and Mesquite. “We can finally close this chapter and start a new one.”

This particular chapter began four months ago after residents of the community accused the district and Garvey of trying to shut the board down due to a political clash over ongoing conversations about breaking up the school district.

The volunteer board, which meets regularly to discuss issues related to the community’s four public schools, supported a breakup and called publicly for Moapa Valley’s independence from CCSD in front of a committee of state lawmakers.

But, in a tense meeting at Moapa Valley High School just days later, members were told in person by Garvey and district officials that their board technically didn’t exist due to an overlooked School Board policy passed in 2001.

Present at the showdown were Republican Assemblymen James Oscarson and Chris Edwards, who represent the area, and their peers David Gardner and Stephen Silberkraus, both key figures in passing the legislation calling for a study of a CCSD breakup.

Garvey claimed at the time that the district had only just then discovered the mixup, but many in the community felt the sudden pronouncement was in retaliation to their activism. Meanwhile, Garvey began efforts to rectify School Board policy to allow the boards to continue to operate.

Residents in Moapa Valley have been particularly vocal in the discussion about how to address CCSD’s perceived administrative largesse. They have long felt communities should have more control over their schools, an idea gaining traction among some lawmakers, and their CEAB’s presentation on the subject sparked a healthy debate.

Shari Lyman, chairwoman of Moapa Valley’s CEAB, said Thursday night that she was grateful for Garvey’s effort to reinstate CEABs into the school board policies, but that the community would stand firm in their quest for independence.

“We have a task force that is still working on it,” she said. “No point in stopping the momentum.”

Though a number of towns in Clark County had operated CEABs in the past, there are only two currently in existence, one in Moapa Valley and the other in Mesquite.

Both were reinstated on Thursday, with the School Board’s assurance that they could advocate for whatever issue they want, wherever they want, without being censored by trustees.

“Now we have the ability to address any issue that affects our community’s education,” said Lyman.

“We could go to the Legislature or the governor,” she said, adding, “We could even go to President Obama.”

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