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April 23, 2014

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Skorkowsky’s shuffled cabinet saves district money but is faulted for lack of minorities

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Steve Marcus

Clark County School District Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky during a Clark County School District orientation session for new teachers at the Venetian Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013. Over 1,700 teachers took part in the orientation.

Pat Skorkowsky at Editorial Board Meeting

Pat Skorkowsky, Clark County School District superintendent, listens to a question during an editorial board meeting at the Las  Vegas Sun offices in Henderson June 11, 2013. Launch slideshow »

Clark County Schools Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky’s administrative reorganization is expected to save the district about $145,000.

However, Skorkowsky’s leadership picks concerned School Board member Linda Young, who pointed out only two of the superintendent's 11-member cabinet are from minority backgrounds.

Earlier this month, Skorkowsky announced a reorganization of his cabinet, naming one deputy superintendent and four chiefs who will be charged with raising the academic caliber in the School District. Skorkowsky also expanded the responsibilities of his chief of staff, who is now in charge of communications for the district.

At the time, Skorkowsky said the reorganization would be “cost-neutral.” At Thursday’s School Board meeting, Skorkowsky outlined how his reorganization would save the district money.

Skorkowsky is eliminating three positions through retirements and vacancies. The nixed positions are Chief of Staff Kirsten Searer’s former position, Skorkowsky’s former position of deputy superintendent of instruction and a director-level position, which is being vacated by a retirement that hasn’t been announced yet.

Skorkowsky shuffled around a number of positions and renamed others, but added only one new position — a deputy chief of staff. Joe Caruso, the former principal of Cimarron-Memorial High School who was removed in school’s turnaround effort, will help support Searer.

Skorkowsky released the salary raise figures for three of his chiefs.

Andre Denson, chief educational opportunity officer, is getting a $16,875 raise. He will earn an annual base salary of $149,984.

Mike Barton, chief student achievement officer, is getting a $15,524 raise. He will earn an annual base salary of $142,339.

Jhone Ebert, chief innovation and productivity officer, is getting a $8,283 raise. She will earn an annual base salary of $144,366.

Despite the raises, the net elimination of two positions is expected to save the district $145,235, Skorkowsky said. The final savings cost will be outlined in the district’s November budget update, he added.

School Board members largely approved of Skorkowsky’s reorganization. They liked how each administrator was tasked by Skorkowsky to work in ways that will support raising student achievement.

“The focus on students seems to be sharper and clearer now,” School Board member Patrice Tew said.

Although Young ultimately approved the reorganization, she took issue with the lack of minority representation.

Young, who is the only minority representative of the seven-member School Board, pointed out that only two top-level administrators — Andre Denson and Jhone Ebert — are from minority backgrounds. Young said the School District has long suffered from a “perception issue,” particularly among Clark County’s minority families.

“We have to look at how we are being perceived. When you look at the percentage of administrators in the school district and administrators on the executive team, there really are not a lot of people of color,” Young said. “We have to be cognizant that we are now a minority-majority school district.”

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