Laughlin residents, staff at Bennett Elementary wonder when school will get upgrades

LAS VEGAS - A series of portable classrooms built to handle Laughlin's school population in 1986 was supposed to be a temporary situation.  But those portables now form the foundation of the aging William G. Bennett Elementary School.

The Laughlin community has worked tirelessly to get the site upgraded but has had little success.

The community's frustration was evident three years ago when 8 News Now profiled efforts to upgrade Bennett Elementary.

"It's one of the cleanest and well maintained schools in the district," said James McIntosh, CCSD CFO, during a 2014 interview.  

The school was built in 1986 as a series of portable classrooms, and now most of the campus is wrapped in stucco, but underneath all of that, the same structure remains.

Critics pointed out issues with the heating and air conditioning, along with rats and snakes, shaky floors and a cramped parking lot.

"Our community knows that it's got to be fixed," said Cheryl Crow, Laughlin residents.

However, little has changed.

"We feel like the ugly stepchild," said Ashlyn Sainz, Laughlin resident.

"There are schools a lot older in Las Vegas, but they weren't built as temporary structures," Crow said.

It's easy to understand the frustration of the Laughlin residents because recently, the Clark County School District spent millions of dollars on new school projects.  However, almost none of that money has made its way to Laughlin, despite the fact it has one of the highest tax rates in the county.

In May, the town board tried to get answers.

"Where do we stand on getting a new elementary?" 

"I'm not prepared today to talk about that." 

Interview requests were passed to district headquarters who sent the following statement:

"There are currently no plans for a replacement school or modifications scheduled for this location. However, Bennett Elementary School is tentatively scheduled for a Facility Condition Assessment in the next round of schools during the 2017-18 school year. Any consideration for a replacement or modifications will be examined once the assessment is complete. The replacements and modifications that are performed at all CCSD schools go through the capital planning process, in accordance with Board of School Trustees adopted Guiding principles."

"We're not asking for great brand new schools,"  Sainz said.  "We're just asking for something that's sufficent and safe for our kids."

For parents in the area, any solution is better than the status quo.

Last school year, Bennett Elementary was about 100 students below capacity.  The middle and high schools were also well below the maximum, allowing space for elementary students.


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