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April 16, 2014

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education:

School Board member endorses interim chief Skorkowsky as next superintendent

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Paul Takahashi

Clark County School Board President Carolyn Edwards, left, and Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky answer questions from media.

Click to enlarge photo

School Board members Erin Cranor, right, and Chris Garvey during a Clark County School Board meeting at the Edward Greer Education Center on East Flamingo Road, May 16, 2012.

Clark County School Board member Chris Garvey officially announced her support for hiring Pat Skorkowsky as the next superintendent overseeing the Las Vegas school system.

"This trustee's common sense tells her that we have our superintendent already," Garvey said. "I will support Pat Skorkowsky as superintendent."

Skorkowsky, a 25-year veteran educator, became the interim superintendent of the nation's fifth-largest school district last month after Superintendent Dwight Jones announced his resignation unexpectedly. Jones cited personal reasons for leaving the district a little more than halfway through his four-year term.

School Board members are now wrestling with whether to conduct a national search for its next superintendent.

Garvey praised Skorkowsky during Thursday's School Board meeting, saying he has the "background and knowledge" to lead the School District.

"He's tied to the community. He's demonstrated the skills," Garvey said. "He knows us warts and all and he's still with us."

Garvey's support comes less than halfway through a series of 14 public input meetings on the superintendent search.

About 100 people showed up for the four community meetings held so far; 45 of them commented during the meeting. Nearly 200 people tuned into a portion of the public input meetings that were streamed online, but about half of them were from School District computers.

The School District also has been collecting paper and online surveys on the superintendent search. The district received about 100 paper survey responses and about 650 online survey responses, which Associate Superintendent Joyce Haldeman said was "very low."

Despite the low turnout at the community meetings so far, the public has bombarded School Board members with emails and phone calls about the superintendent search. Many community members have voiced their opinions at regular School Board meetings.

While business community leaders have pushed for a national search, many minority community leaders and teachers union members have called for Skorkowsky to become superintendent.

For over an hour Thursday night, School Board members discussed several proposed protocols related to the superintendent search. They expressed concerns about the speed, transparency and fairness of the search process.

These proposed protocols include the following:

• School Board members are cautioned about holding private, individual meetings with special interests regarding the search.

• Until the board approves a search process, all potential applicants are encouraged to wait to declare their candidacy.

• If a search firm is hired, the board may designate two board members to work directly with the search firm. No conversations between a single School Board member and the firm will take place.

School Board members still seemed split on the issue of hiring a search firm to conduct a national search. Earlier this month, the board postponed its decision on hiring a search firm to May 20 after voting 6-1 the previous month to hire an Omaha-based consulting firm.

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  1. If they want longevity and continuity the CCSD has to get away from carpet baggers like Jones who are looking for big payday scores with one foot out the door looking for their next endeavor. Guys like him maintain homes in their home state and truly are not part of the community, nor will they ever be. Find an internal hire with roots here. Skorkowsky seems to fit the bill.

  2. Now is not the time to hire someone new. We are faced with challenges and we need to stick together to get through them. No one, no matter how experienced he or she is in running a school district, would have the knowledge and advantage of a local. Las Vegas is unique. Our community is nothing like any other community in the US. We need someone who knows and understands us.

    The district must utilize someone within its ranks to deal with the legislature and funding. Haldeman and Edwards can do it! Mr. Skorkowsky needs to focus in the optimal utilization of human resources, revolutionizing professional development delivery to facilitate administrative and teacher efficacy, educating parents on how they can help their children at home and at school, and the design of an educational, assessment, and accountability plan that is laser-like to meet specific deficiencies and needs of ALL students. Nothing should distract him from THE MOST important aspect of his job.

    These are the reforms that the district needs. Those pseudo-reforms do nothing to improve student achievement. They are nothing but to please certain segments of the population who are bent on derailing social progress all for their grandiose plans of enriching their coffers.

    Enough is enough.

  3. Please allow Interim Pat Skorkowsky the opportunity to get the job done. For years now, this school district has been plagued by constant changes due to School District Superintendent turnover. Not one single Superintendent has been able to completely follow through in any particular plan, which is highly disruptive to the educational process for our students. This man KNOWS the ropes, both politically and organizationally.

    The School Board should be sending the message that they value those who are loyal and work hard in their district, and not treat valuable human resources as transient, expendable laborers.

    The School District is on the road to recovery, now is the time to see it through to its manifestation with a proven leader, Pat Skorkowsky. Everyone in this community depends upon this. Thank you.

    Blessings and Peace,
    Star

  4. Nancy & Star, I understand your concerns regarding the constantly changing district administration, but do you really think that a local is unquestionably the best option? I'm really asking, because you would have a more educated opinion than most of us (certainly more so than me).

    From my perspective, it seems like the local leaders have done nothing to improve performance over the past 10-20 years. They make excuses about lack of funding and the lack of community involvement, but they don't seem to take any responsibility for their own faults.

    I think we need someone that acknowledges that we have a large, vocal, libertarian portion of the community that will not allow for any tax increase before we start to see some positive results. They also need to understand that a large portion of public school parents in this town do not value education as much as they should. We can NOT hire someone that throws up their arms and complains when they don't get the money that they want, or when they don't get the parent participation that they want. I'm not saying that's right, but that's what we're likely to be dealing with for some time.

    We need to get this district out of the gutter. I really don't think that more of the same is going to get that done.

  5. @ImproveLV. Did you see the story a couple of days ago when Skorkowsky, and the heads of the teachers union, Ruben Murillo, support staff union, John Carr, and the executive director of the administrators union stood together at Cashman Middle School to talk about a plan supported by all to reduce class size in CCSD? They agreed on the plan and were all asking for the same thing from the Legislature.

    Given the relationship between the unions and CCSD over the past several years, would the same picture have been taken with Jones?

  6. Improve LV:

    I am pleased of your concern for this district. I am VERY concerned. It is where my children and grandchild go. It is where I work.

    The local leaders, specifically the school leaders, have been overpowered by people coming in as superintendent. There is this overwhelming consensus to do things as have always been done and anything 'outside the box' is but a cliche, but not really even considered. It has always been doing 'what is already tried and found to be true,' from hiring teachers and administrators to any other decisions that have been made. There is this 'mold' that the decision-makers go by and when anything does not fit that mold is out. The sad part is, that mold has nothing to do with student achievement, as they claim.

    Take for example teacher evaluation. It has become more punitive, yet it does not delineate HOW TO improve teacher efficacy. Another one is accountability reforms. Fancy measurements do not mean anything if there is no plan for laser-like interventions to address specific deficiencies these assessments uncover. Take professional development. Having outside experts and consultants deliver teacher training is NOT effective. We have been doing this for years! What we need is more time for teacher collaboration to assess true student progress, design interventions, and implement strategies to address individual student need. No one knows what a child needs except his own teacher.

    As to Mr. Skorkowsky appointment: We need to give him this chance. I have known him for 25 years now and I have high hopes for him. As I have said earlier, Las Vegas is unique. Other districts do not even come close to the challenges we face. Anyone from other districts would be really shocked of what we have to deal with here, and it will take them a few years to recover from that shock. Some of them do not recover and so they skedaddle.

    Anyway, this is my personal opinion based on my 27 years in this district, working for five different superintendents. If he does not work out, we could not be worse off as we already are. I have high hopes Mr. Skorkowsky will make a big difference. He will make his mark!

  7. Tanker, I didn't see that photo/article. While I think that we can be more productive if there's a more positive relationship between administrators, school board, and teachers, I don't know if that's the most important issue. Without sounding like "Waiting for Superman"...my primary concern isn't that the adults in the district are happy, it's that the kids improve their performance. It's that we eliminate any bureaucracy that prevents us from implementing innovative and effective ideas. It's that we stop trying to be all things to all people, and focus our limited resources on the basics. And only support programs that have the largest impact on the children in our district.

    I understand that the CCSD is far too large to quickly adapt to constantly changing programs, which is why we need to be intelligent enough to do the research up front on what has worked in other, similar districts, and give those ideas a chance to succeed. I highly doubt that any new program is going to have a huge effect in 1-2 years. We need to do a better job of communicating to the public, and setting realistic expectations so that they/we don't get restless and demand change before ideas have a chance to succeed.

    Anyway, that's just my opinion, and it's largely based on theory, not practice. I value the input from the teachers, but I'm a very frustrated and concerned parent right now.

  8. Well aint that special, the trustees pull thier heads out of thier you know what and decide not to waste all that money for a NATION WIDE SEARCH only to find someone who would just run away like a cry baby. Good job trustees now go ahead and pat yourselves on the back but don't hurt your arm doing it.

  9. Now is the time for our school board to act and stop making decisions that is 'popular.' Decisions that are based on cliches.

    The board needs to give its full support to Mr. Skorkowsky and ease the load of being CCSD's superintendent. There are over 300,000 children who need his full attention NOW. To create a learning organization of 28,000 people to care for that number of children requires focus, courage, and singularity of purpose.

    CCSD's superintendent needs the freedom of thought and action without having to contend with the added pressures of the politics of decision-making and of the unrelenting hector of funding.

    It is the board's responsibility to relieve Mr. Skorkowsky of these burdens.

    Schools exist solely for preparing ALL children to be who they are capable of becoming. We must refocus our efforts to this moral obligation.