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July 22, 2017

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CCSD works toward compliance with reorganization law

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Mikayla Whitmore

Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky talks with students at Dean Petersen Elementary School in Las Vegas on Aug. 29, 2016.

The Clark County School District’s reorganization is moving forward with the goal of increasing autonomy and improving performance.

District and state-level officials have been receiving updates on the reorganization for months, with the most recent coming this week. Officials are compliant with roughly a dozen of the key provisions in Assembly Bill 469, legislation that was approved this year to lay out requirements for the district’s new structure.

The new law builds on work done in the 2015 legislative session, with the goal of making schools in the nation’s fifth-largest district more responsive to communities while increasing their independence from the district’s central bureaucracy.

Kellie Ballard, director of CCSD’s Office of the Deputy Superintendent, said Wednesday during a reorganization update before the state’s Community Implementation Council that the district needs to be in compliance with the law by the start of the school year.

Classes are scheduled to begin Aug. 14.

“To that end, we are first focusing on transparency and tracking of expenditures while at the same time laying the groundwork for increasing and aligning autonomy,” she said.

CCSD is in compliance with about a dozen sections of the bill, including the provision creating organizational teams for local school precincts. Positive feedback from these groups included members saying they’d learned more about school budgets, while negative comments touched on topics such as a lack of clarity in roles and responsibilities.

The bill deems schools within CCSD as local school precincts, among other changes. The district is fully compliant with this portion of the law, while making progress toward the rest of the provisions.

Part of the measure requires the superintendent to shift certain responsibilities, such as developing a balanced budget, to the precincts. The district is near compliance on this section of the bill and in the midst of fulfilling the rest of the measure.

Work is underway on sections of the bill that stipulate responsibilities for the budget process, the funding split, and how money will be distributed, among other provisions.

One main point of work has been the funding split and determining where services fall in the funding formula. The bill says that the local school precincts will get, in the first year, at least 80 percent of the district’s total amount of unrestricted money. The split has to be 85 percent in the years after that.

TSC² Group President and CEO Tom Skancke, the lead consultant on a team working on the reorganization, says many groups have helped make the first phase of the process a reality.

“The work today is where the rubber actually hits the road,” he said Wednesday. “This is where we start to make good on the promises that the Legislature made to the community, that at least 80 percent of the funding it sends to the school district will be allocated and used at the local school level.”

Implementation council chair Glenn Christenson, an education reform advocate who is married to a teacher, said Wednesday that he is concerned about how the reorganization will progress once the consultant’s contract ends Oct. 31. He said the 80/20 funding requirement has been met and it looks like the district is on track to be in compliance by the time the school year starts.

“We’re not in an ideal place, but much work has been done,” he said.

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