Las Vegas Sun

November 12, 2019

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Clark County School Board members question reorganization plan

Clark County School Board members cast doubt today on a legislative plan to reorganize the school district, saying legal concerns were keeping them from endorsing the plan.

In a work session this morning, board members said the reorganization plan, which would put more power in the hands of schools, could sidestep their authority as elected officials.

In a statement approved unanimously by the board, they said there are “significant educational, financial and legal issues that must be addressed prior to the proposed plan being finalized ...”

“I don’t see one mention of the board of trustees in that plan — not one time,” board member Deanna Wright said.

“I think this train is moving really fast,” she said, noting the Legislature’s goal of rolling out a reorganization in time for the 2017-2018 school year.

The plan would turn the district’s current power structure on its head. Principals, teachers, staff and parents would make key staffing and financial decisions at each school, with the central office providing services as needed.

It has been embraced by Democratic and Republican legislators and a number of community leaders. But school board members raised concerns that the new structure would make it unclear who would be responsible for fulfilling collective bargaining requirements and whether individual schools would be held legally responsible in the event of a lawsuit.

“We’re just having some pause about the questions and the legalities,” board President Linda Young said.

Others point out that the Legislative Counsel Bureau, which has been involved in the reorganization process from the beginning, has already vetted the plan for legal issues.

“We have been at work for almost a year,” said John Vellardita, executive director of the Clark County teachers union. “For the [school board] to be oblivious of this process and to now say, in the eleventh hour, ‘We need more time’ ... I think speaks to the dysfunctional nature of the [school board].”

Bob Sweetin, city attorney for Mesquite, called the concerns unfounded and “debunked.”

Still, board members did not rule out future acceptance of the reorganization plan. Following a series of public town hall meetings, which end next week, the plan will be revised before it faces a final vote of the Legislative Commission.

The next town hall is 6 p.m. today at the Northwest Career and Technical Academy, 8200 W. Tropical Parkway.

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