Las Vegas Sun

November 20, 2018

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Education:

Board seeks to whittle down its wish list for the next schools chief

Image

Steve Marcus

Clark County School Board trustee Deanna Wright, center, speaks after Pat Skorkowsky, superintendent of the Clark County School District, announced his retirement, at the end of his contract in June 2018, during an event at Bracken Elementary School Thursday , Sept. 7, 2017. With Wright are trustees Carolyn Edwards, left, and Linda Young.

What should the Clark County School Board look for in the next superintendent?

The seven-member board entrusted with hiring the district’s top brass wants answers to that question, and they will decide today how to structure the public-input process of their current superintendent search.

In November, the trustees unanimously voted to hire Iowa-based recruiting firm Ray and Associates to conduct a national search to succeed current Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky, who will retire in June after 30 years with the district. Today they will meet with search firm representatives to discuss their expectations and decide on a timeline for a series of meetings where parents, members of the business community and the general public can weigh in on priorities.

Trustee Deanna Wright says the board held almost 40 public meetings during the superintendent search that led to the hire of Dwight Jones in 2013.

“We didn’t need to do that much,” she said. “It was overkill.”

This time around Wright expects there to be five to seven meetings, spread out geographically. The meetings are expected to inform the trustees on what criteria they should set for candidates.

Should the next superintendent have a background in finance or business? Should a doctorate degree be required of him or her? Is bringing a fresh perspective more valuable to the country’s fifth-largest school district than having firsthand experience within it? How much emphasis should be placed on diversity?

Those are the types of questions already floating around CCSD employees, education advocates and the general public. Wright says she is doing her best to direct those people and that chatter to official channels. Trustees have expressed a desire to make the superintendent search as transparent as possible.

“It does nobody any good to stop me in the grocery store and say, ‘I think the superintendent needs this or that.’ That’s nice but we have to have it some formalized way.”

The trustees may also touch on the subject of the superintendent position’s compensation during today’s meeting. Some believe the salary isn’t competitive with similarly sized districts and could deter highly qualified candidates. However, they cannot vote on that issue today.

Similarly, the trustees and search firm still need to decide on how much, and when, candidate information becomes part of the public record. Recruiters argue revealing too much too soon also turns away candidates. However, trustees have expressed a desire to know more about the overall candidate pool beyond the handful of finalists who they will interview.

Specific details on the superintendent search will likely emerge in early February, after the series of public meetings have been held.