‘As one community’

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By Optic Editorial Board

Members of the East and West school boards are to be commended for their comments last week in support of consolidating Las Vegas’ two school districts.

Their words nudged the community toward a renewed discussion about what’s best for the city and its schools.

At an East board meeting where water rights were discussed, Las Vegas City Schools board member Gloria Lovato-Pacheco raised the issue by asking when a discussion about administrative consolidation was going to begin. West school board chairman Gary Gold responded that he’s ready. “Imagine the potential we would have as one community,” he said. “I am a huge advocate for one community.”

Of course, a handful of opinions does not a majority make. But it’s worth noting that no one spoke against consolidation.

Gold’s position was especially courageous, since there appears to be stronger opposition to consolidation in his district. But he’s ready to advance the debate, and it’s not the first time he’s decried the disunity of Las Vegas.

At the meeting, Gold said he has thought a lot about consolidation during his years on West’s school board (he’s now in his second four-year term). He’s come to the conclusion that, eventually, either the state is going to force the issue or “we are going to have to put it out to the voters.” In fact, he suggested just that — put it on the next election ballot. “If we get 70 percent of ‘no’ we will know what direction we are going. If we get 70 percent of ‘yes’ we need to start talking to each other.”

We suspect it would be a “yes” vote on both sides of the river, at least if the younger people in town turn out to vote.

This is an old issue, and older citizens of Las Vegas are the primary reason why there has been no movement toward consolidation. In a series of “branding” meetings for the city, to explore ways to improve Las Vegas and its identity, consultant Jim Glover held meetings with teens to gauge their viewpoints about our town. When consolidation of the school districts came up, he reported in September, not a single young person opposed the idea.

The older citizenry should listen to younger thinking. Unification is more than politics, it’s a mindset we need to embrace. Kudos to the school board members who have.