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Ruben Murillo Jr, President Clark County Education Association
BY MARIE ANDRUSEWICZ -- Clark County teachers’ union president Ruben Murillo has more than hope that Pat Skorkowsky will have a better relationship with teachers than his predecessor, Dwight Jones.
He says a productive collaboration is already underway.
“We saw it when he was an interim. The district and Clark County Education Association came up with a classroom size reduction plan, a blueprint,” says Murillo. “We took it to the legislature and said, ‘look in order to reduce classroom sizes in K through twelfth grade we need this many teachers. We need these resources in order to do so.’ We didn’t have that under the previous superintendent.”
Murillo says that classroom size is still at the top of his list of necessary reforms for Clark County Schools.
“If you go to private schools, if you go to charter schools, they have small class sizes,” says Murillo. “I come from a Catholic high school where we had six people in my algebra class.”
Murillo praises Skorkowsky not only for addressing class size but for improving teacher morale.
“People feel they’ve been burned in the past by the selection of people who’ve been born from out of the state who didn’t have roots or connections, or maybe didn’t even know how to pronounce the state.”
Skorkowsky started in Clark County Schools as an elementary school teacher in 1988.
“When you have someone who understands the system who grew up teaching in the system and understands the nuances of it, I think we’re going to be better off,” says Murillo.
Dwight Jones tenure was marred by a contentious relationship with the teachers union. Two years of bitter contract negotiations led to unprecedented union protests and left teachers with low morale.
But the relationship didn’t begin badly.
“When Dwight was first hired, the school board was very big on collaboration, very big on making sure the next superintendent came in and worked with unions,” says Murillo. “But when you hire a communications director who calls us ‘union thugs,’ when you hire people to help block what unions are working together for – that sends a clear message.”
Murillo has no problem with the Board choosing to hire from within rather than conduct a national search.
“The board truly listened to their constituents, the voters, and acted upon their request,” says Murillo.