Wednesday, March 21, 2018 | 12:19 p.m.
Today’s prop- and joke-filled State of the Schools address wasn’t typical for what has become as a more solemn annual event. But neither are the circumstances surrounding outgoing Clark County School District Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky, who announced last fall his retirement in June.
With saxophones, balls and a Starbucks barista uniform among other props, students and district staff bade Skorkowsky farewell on a lighthearted note in the midst of high budget deficits, low reading proficiency levels and large elementary and middle school student achievement gaps.
The two-hour event at Legacy High School in North Las Vegas also highlighted district gains during Skorkowsky’s five-year tenure, which included a record number of high school students in advanced placement classes and a high school graduation rate of more than 83 percent.
“We cannot forget every student and every classroom,” Skorkowsky said. “We have to make sure there are successes there.”
Speakers at today’s event, attended by about 500 students, parents, faculty, School Board members and elected officials, praised Skorkowsky for his strong leadership and advancing the district, especially at the high school level.
School Board President Deanna Wright said Skorkowsky’s impact would leave a mark on the district for years to come.
“I’ve tried to talk him out of retirement many times,” Wright said. “I’m grateful for his friendship and leadership.”
Skorkowsky was introduced briefly just after the event began at 8:30 a.m. but stepped off the Legacy High School auditorium stage as district officials, students and administrators gave presentations for the next 90 minutes. When he returned for the conclusion of the ceremony, students presented various theories for what he might do in his retirement.
Among those theories were working as a Starbucks barista, playing in a jazz band or becoming a dodgeball champion. Wearing a customized Starbucks apron with his name on it and a saxophone hanging around his neck, Skorkowsky laughed as students threw foam balls at him.
“Please know this work will continue,” Skorkowsky said. “This is my home and where I will continue to be and continue to fight behind the scenes supporting the next superintendent.”
By waiting until he reaches 30 years of service with the district in June, Skorkowsky will qualify for the maximum allowable pension under Nevada’s Public Employees’ Retirement System.
Four of seven School Board members — Wright, Vice President Carolyn Edwards, Linda Young and Kevin Child attended the event.
Wright said a short list of superintendent candidates will be announced next month, with a goal of having Skorkowsky’s successor in place when Skorkowsky leaves.