If you hope to fix the Clark County School District’s problems, you must start in Carson City.
In Nevada, all local governments are creations of the state. They are like subsidiaries of a larger company. They have their own leaders and employees, but if the parent company tells them to do something, they must obey.
In some ways, this works out well. Have you ever wondered why the Clark County Commission — made up of seven Democrats — spends so little time talking about tax hikes? It’s not because they aren’t liberal — watching commissioners Steve Sisolak and Chris Giunchigliani move further and further to the left in their quest for the Democrat gubernatorial nod should convince you of that. Instead, it’s because they can raise taxes only when the state says they can — like with the More Cops Tax.
That’s the good. The bad is collective bargaining. The school district, along with every local government, can’t set its employees’ pay and benefits. Per state law, it must negotiate with an employee union. If district officials can’t reach an agreement, the dispute goes to binding arbitration and an unelected, unaccountable, out-of-state arbitrator picks the winner. The first criterion the arbitrator looks at is the district’s ability to pay.
This is why more money won’t fix the district’s budget problems. Give it more unrestricted money, and its unions will demand greater pay increases.