Saturday, July 16, 2011 | 1:55 a.m.
The Clark County School District is reorganizing the way it manages schools, grouping struggling schools that need more attention while providing successful schools leeway to manage themselves.
Under the new plan, the district’s more than 300 schools will be grouped into 13 “performance zones,” based not only on geography but on measures such as graduation rates and test scores.
Previously, schools were arranged into five much larger areas.
Now, schools where student achievement is lagging will be organized into groups of 17 to 25 schools and targeted for more attention. Those schools, for example, will have the first opportunity to hire new talent and tap professional development funds, according to the district’s website.
Higher-performing schools, meanwhile, will be in larger groups of 25 or more schools and will benefit from a more hands-off management style, officials said.
There also will be one “autonomous zone” for the “best of the best” schools that will have the most freedom to manage their budgets in exchange for greater accountability for student performance, said Pedro Martinez, the district’s deputy superintendent of instruction.
The reorganization recognizes that one size doesn’t fit all in the nation’s fifth largest school district.
For example, nine schools in a disadvantaged area of west Las Vegas will be grouped together.
“We know those schools need a different level of attention and they have very unique needs...so we decided to keep those schools together,” Martinez said.
School Board members, who were briefed on the plan at a meeting Thursday, voiced support for the restructuring.
“Without reservation, this is brilliant,” said board member Erin Cranor. “So many times, we wished to see our teachers freed up to practice the art of teaching and our principals freed up to practice academic leadership...This turns the district right side up.”
The reorganization will not affect which schools students attend or transportation.
An academic manager, who will work directly with Martinez and Superintendent Dwight Jones, will supervise each of the zones. The managers will spend four days a week at the schools, focusing on instructional needs.
The reorganization also includes three ombudsmen — former principals — to answer questions and address concerns from parents.
“So many times, our parents get tired going from one office to another with no one making a decision,” Martinez said. “With this structure, we hope public complaints will be reduced.”