Nevada Public Radio Listen Live

"Here and Now"
Facebook Twitter Follow Nevada Public Radio

Support Nevada Public Radio
KNPR's State of Nevada About SON Archives Participate Specials

Ruben Murillo On The Future Of Clark County Schools
Ruben Murillo On The Future Of Clark County Schools

AIR DATE: June 10, 2013


Ruben Murillo Jr, President Clark County Education Association

BY MARIE ANDRUSEWICZ -- Clark County teachers’ union president Ruben Murillo has more than hope that Pat Skorkowsky will have a better relationship with teachers than his predecessor, Dwight Jones.

He says a productive collaboration is already underway.

“We saw it when he was an interim. The district and Clark County Education Association came up with a classroom size reduction plan, a blueprint,” says Murillo. “We took it to the legislature and said, ‘look in order to reduce classroom sizes in K through twelfth grade we need this many teachers. We need these resources in order to do so.’ We didn’t have that under the previous superintendent.”

Murillo says that classroom size is still at the top of his list of necessary reforms for Clark County Schools.

 “If you go to private schools, if you go to charter schools, they have small class sizes,” says Murillo. “I come from a Catholic high school where we had six people in my algebra class.”

Murillo praises Skorkowsky not only for addressing class size but for improving teacher morale.

“People feel they’ve been burned in the past by the selection of people who’ve been born from out of the state who didn’t have roots or connections, or maybe didn’t even know how to pronounce the state.”

Skorkowsky started in Clark County Schools as an elementary school teacher in 1988.

“When you have someone who understands the system who grew up teaching in the system and understands the nuances of it, I think we’re going to be better off,” says Murillo.

Dwight Jones tenure was marred by a contentious relationship with the teachers union. Two years of bitter contract negotiations led to unprecedented union protests and left teachers with low morale.

But the relationship didn’t begin badly.

“When Dwight was first hired, the school board was very big on collaboration, very big on making sure the next superintendent came in and worked with unions,” says Murillo. “But when you hire a communications director who calls us ‘union thugs,’ when you hire people to help block what unions are working together for – that sends a clear message.”

Murillo has no problem with the Board choosing to hire from within rather than conduct a national search.

“The board truly listened to their constituents, the voters, and acted upon their request,” says Murillo.

    comments powered by Disqus
    I am curious about the program that sends students to the camp in CA called Pali. How is this an appropriate use of tax payer dollars. How much does the program cost?
    CitizenJun 10, 2013 09:15:54 AM
    I don't think the teachers' union is the right entity to query here, as they simply want more money, lots more. And they are obviously not willing to even try to do better with less. Actually, more money is also what motivates the government arm of education in Nevada. And, that's the problem: *everyone* doing the job wants more and more money for doing less and less, and, indeed, doing it badly. What we need is for parents, the only ones in the equation that actually have an interest in the outcomes, to raise their voices and demand a high quality education at a price that we can all afford and sustain.
    Tim HuntJun 9, 2013 14:38:46 PM
    Teachers most certainly have been doing more with less. Class sizes are larger, books and supplies are limited, teachers pay more out of pocket for health insurance benefits and contribute more towards their retirement plan, and many teachers took a substantial cut in pay in February when an arbitrator from California ruled against the union's offer. As for quality, I'm not sure any of us knows whether kids and their teachers are doing better or worse, because the curriculum, standards, and tests used to measure student growth keep changing. We're never comparing apples to apples! You want parents to raise their voices and demand more of our schools, but it might be better if they'd raise their voices at their children and demand greater attention to learning! Too few do.
    Brad TruaxJun 10, 2013 14:32:16 PM
    True, Brad, parents do need to do a much better job supporting their kids in school and explaining to them just how important education is. As for the money issue, I'd guess that a truly all-in cost number (personnel, bureaucratic overhead, capital expenses, miscellaneous operating expenses, pensions, health insurance, etc.) is on the order of $15,000 per year per kid. Multiply that across a class of about 30 students and one has a half million dollars per classroom per year. Taking out money for the teacher and providing a room still leaves hundreds of thousands of dollars per year per classroom that I'd suggest is mostly wasted on crap. Indeed, anyone with even a bit of common sense would be able to run the CCSD on half the money they get now.
    Tim HuntJun 10, 2013 16:41:08 PM
    Please. Such ideological, unfounded, untrue claims do not help improve NV education. Why even respond if you're simply going to respond with pure and utter uninformed opinion and bias? I'd be willing to be that most teachers work much harder for less than most people you know, Mr. Hunt. Maybe you ought to try it and ask yourself how long you could last.
    justateacherJun 29, 2013 09:52:00 AM
    Web hosting facilities provided by Switch.