Maybe drones could pay for new high school

I’ve got an idea to get the kids of Boulder City a new high school that’s crazy enough it might just be feasible.

You see, manufacturers of drones could be using the ample land surrounding our town for a testing area for unmanned aircraft.

The Federal Aviation Administration Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 tasked the agency with integrating civil unmanned aircraft systems — I’m going to call them drones because that’s what they are — into national airspace by September 2015.

Nevada, and Boulder City, are trying to get a piece of that $10 billion pie that is estimated to be created during the FAA’s five-year testing period.

So how does this get Boulder City a new high school? Stay with me.

As reporter Jack Johnson explains in his Page 3 story, there was a meeting between state education leaders and leading manufactures of drones at the JW Marriot Las Vegas last week.

Boeing and Lockheed Martin were there. One idea floated was that drone-related training programs be developed at the state’s universities, with early education programs at a high school.

Jonathan Daniels, an adjunct professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and a state liaison for the governor’s office trying to lure the drone industry to Nevada, even suggested to Johnson something for Boulder City High akin to a magnet program similar to the Academy of Aviation at Rancho High School in North Las Vegas.

Although the decision if the area surrounding Boulder City, or Nevada for that matter, will be chosen for the FAA’s development program won’t be made until the end of the year, it’s not too early for the people on the Community Education Advisory Board to grab this idea of a magnet program at the high school and start to leverage it for the estimated $34 million needed for a new high school.

Let’s be realistic: I don’t see the Clark County School District building the final phases of the school in the next few years.

If the drone industry wants to test its growth potential around our town, and lay the ground work for early technical training in our classrooms, then city and school district officials could leverage that for a new high school.

I don’t know if there is some law that prevents private corporations from building public schools in Nevada, but the taxpayers don’t want to seem to do it. The voters overwhelmingly voted in November to turn down a property tax increase that would have funded various district projects, including a new high school.

So if the taxpayers won’t, I say we should look into Boulder City/Lockheed Martin High. And what is $34 million out of $10 billion? I say we go all in. A few million more for the latest technology in all the new classrooms.

How about another $30 million for new sports facilities: new football stadium, new softball and baseball fields and stands with modern concession stands, restrooms and lights that work around the field.

Speaking of lights, the soccer field need lights and stands. Modernize the tennis courts. And don’t forget an aquatics center for the best swim program in the state. And the wrestling program.

The school could keep the mascot: There is a drone called the ScanEagle. Maybe it could hover over the fields during games.

This is all pie-in-the-sky thinking at this point. But that’s how reality happens, it starts as dreams.

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