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August 17, 2019

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Florida educator named superintendent for Clark County schools

Updated Wednesday, May 2, 2018 | 7:54 p.m.

Jesus. F. Jara

Jesus. F. Jara

Jesus F. Jara, a deputy superintendent from Orlando, Fla., has been chosen to lead the Clark County School District.

Jara was named Wednesday to replace CCSD Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky, who is stepping down next month. Jara has served as deputy superintendent of Orange County Public Schools since August 2012.

“I’m humbled and honored to be chosen as the next superintendent of the Clark County School District, and my excitement for the job has only grown seeing the passion of the entire CCSD community firsthand," Jara said in a statement. "Education changed my life; it gave me opportunity. Ensuring that every single student gets that same opportunity is why I first became a teacher and what drives my work every day. I look forward to starting by listening to the entire Clark County community about what has been working and where we can continue to improve.”

In a meeting Wednesday to select a new superintendent, School Board members Kevin Child, Linda Cavazos, Carolyn Edwards and Lola Brooks voted in favor of Jara’s appointment, while Chris Garvey and Deanna Wright voted no. Linda Young abstained from voting.

Garvey, Young and Child earlier Wednesday voted in favor of CCSD Chief Academic Officer Mike Barton to succeed Skorkowsky, but Wright, Edwards, Brooks and Cavazos voted against Barton.

After voting down the internal candidate, Cavazos and Edwards both said they chose Jara due to a “necessary culture change” within the district. They criticized Barton’s lack of experience negotiating with unions and added Jara’s ability as a “good communicator” would help move CCSD forward in “new ways.”

“We need a game-changer,” Cavazos said. “Someone who’s able to bring the community into the negotiations and do the job effectively.”

Child, who voted in favor of both Barton and Jara, added the incoming superintendent’s ability to speak fluent Spanish would help the district better cater to its large Hispanic population.

Jara will inherit near-record district financial deficits amid all-time high tensions between the district and unions for both teachers and administrators when he takes over as superintendent this summer. An arbitration judge ruled last month the district must pay $51.5 million in retroactive and future teacher salary raises by the end of the 2018-19 school year.

Child said Jara will also be challenged to win over the three trustees who did not vote for him. Partisanship and divide among school board members and administrators has only added to the ongoing tension between the district and unions.

"He's someone I think we can trust," Child said of Jara. "But he needs to put his nose into the grindstone for our academics to win the other trustees over."

Speaking against Jara, Garvey accused the Orange County School District of “farming out” disciplined children to adult-education charter schools to improve the district’s graduation rates under his leadership.

Before leading the Orange County School District, Jara was superintendent of Monroe County Public Schools in Key West, Fla., from 2010 to mid-2012. He also taught as an adjunct professor at the University of Central Florida.

Jara is a graduate of Barry University in Miami Shores, Fla., and received a master’s degree in science education from Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale. In 2010, he completed a doctorate in education, educational policy, leadership and administration at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.