an member station
BY MARIE ANDRUSEWICZ -- Clark County Schools has tabled their national search for a new superintendent, instead appointing Deputy Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky to serve as interim leader – a post that comes with a 45 percent increase in salary and the assurance that he would keep his previous post if he’s not picked as Dwight Jones' successor.
But the postmortem of former Superintendent Jones’ tenure continues, with differing views on his success, as well as on what type of leadership the district should now seek to tackle the district’s low graduation rates, larger than optimal class sizes, and run-down facilities.
What Jones Did Right
School Board President Carolyn Edwards says CCSD is better today than when Jones took over, but acknowledges that the gains are largely incremental and “the work isn’t done.”
Edwards points to a two percent increase in graduation rates, higher graduation rates among 5th year seniors, and a small jump in CCSD’s ranking in the the Education Week Quality Counts survey – CCSD was ranked 38th, now they’re 36.
Yvette Williams of the Clark County Democratic Black Caucus thinks Jones “Did an excellent job – my particular focus in on issues affecting high risk students, in particular African American students.” She says under Jones’ leadership, there has been “huge progress” in the Prime Six Schools – West Las Vegas Schools with high enrollment of at-risk minority students.
Where Jones Missed
But at least one population was vocally opposed to Jones, according to Ruben Murillo, President of the Clark County Education Association. Murillo says the relationship between Jones and the teachers union was “rocky at best.”
Murillo also gives Jones an “incomplete” grade for leaving before his reforms were realized, and sums up his performance with “Too much, too soon, too quick,” adding that while Jones initiatives were well-intentioned, they did not provide the results.
The union leader adds that Jones cut back on English Language Learners programs, an initiative that Gov. Sandoval is now reinvigorating.
“If you ask the Latino community, he didn’t help ELL at all,” says Murillo. “In fact, resources were cut for Ell services – budget cuts had a part for that.”
There’s still debate within various constituencies about whether there should be a national search for a new district leader, a decision which the CCSD school board is expected to make on May 20.
“The business community wants a national search,” says Murillo. “Everybody else wants to hire from within.”
School Board member Caroyn Edwards says she’s hearing differently.
“The emails I’m getting are a really wide, broad range, from ‘you can do this without a national search’ to ‘just hire today’ ... the design of these (community) meetings is to hear what people are thinking.”
Murillo thinks the new superintendent should have a vested interest in the community and points to the short tenure of Dwight Jones as a potential pitfall of not hiring local.
“Pat, and any of the other potential leaders here know what the communities are about, and they know the ins and outs – they have a step ahead,” says Murillo. “We have good people, they’ve gone through the system.”