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Education Leaders Evaluate Jones' Leadership, Look To Future
Education Leaders Evaluate Jones' Leadership, Look To Future

AIR DATE: April 23, 2013

Yvette Williams, Chair Clark County Democratic Black Caucus
Ruben Murillo, President, Clark County Education Association
Carolyn Edwards, Trustee, Clark County School District

BY MARIE ANDRUSEWICZ -- Clark County Schools has tabled their national search for a new superintendent, instead appointing Deputy Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky to serve as interim leader – a post that comes with a 45 percent increase in salary and the assurance that he would keep his previous post if he’s not picked as Dwight Jones' successor.

But the postmortem of former Superintendent Jones’ tenure continues, with differing views on his success, as well as on what type of leadership the district should now seek to tackle the district’s low graduation rates, larger than optimal class sizes, and run-down facilities.

What Jones Did Right

School Board President Carolyn Edwards says CCSD is better today than when Jones took over, but acknowledges that the gains are largely incremental and “the work isn’t done.”

Edwards points to a two percent increase in graduation rates, higher graduation rates among 5th year seniors, and a small jump in CCSD’s ranking in the the Education Week Quality Counts survey – CCSD was ranked 38th, now they’re 36.

Yvette Williams of the Clark County Democratic Black Caucus thinks Jones “Did an excellent job – my particular focus in on issues affecting high risk students, in particular African American students.” She says under Jones’ leadership, there has been “huge progress” in the Prime Six Schools – West Las Vegas Schools with high enrollment of at-risk minority students.

Where Jones Missed

But at least one population was vocally opposed to Jones, according to Ruben Murillo, President of the Clark County Education Association. Murillo says the relationship between Jones and the teachers union was “rocky at best.”

Murillo also gives Jones an “incomplete” grade for leaving before his reforms were realized, and sums up his performance with “Too much, too soon, too quick,” adding that while Jones initiatives were well-intentioned, they did not provide the results.

The union leader adds that Jones cut back on English Language Learners programs, an initiative that Gov. Sandoval is now reinvigorating.

“If you ask the Latino community, he didn’t help ELL at all,” says Murillo. “In fact, resources were cut for Ell services – budget cuts had a part for that.”

What’s Next

There’s still debate within various constituencies about whether there should be a national search for a new district leader, a decision which the CCSD school board is expected to make on May 20.

“The business community wants a national search,” says Murillo. “Everybody else wants to hire from within.”

School Board member Caroyn Edwards says she’s hearing differently.

“The emails I’m getting are a really wide, broad range, from ‘you can do this without a national search’ to ‘just hire today’ ... the design of these (community) meetings is to hear what people are thinking.”

Murillo thinks the new superintendent should have a vested interest in the community and points to the short tenure of Dwight Jones as a potential pitfall of not hiring local.

“Pat, and any of the other potential leaders here know what the communities are about, and they know the ins and outs – they have a step ahead,” says Murillo. “We have good people, they’ve gone through the system.”




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What CCSD needs is someone who will not only advance the initiatives that Jones started, but who will also start to run CCSD like a business --- with attendant emphasis on efficiency, responsibilty, accountability and performance of employees, along with an emphasis on preparing students for the real world of work. With this in mind, it is stunningly tragic that CCSD wasted so much money on executive search and that Jones wasted so much money on a buddy consultant --- when an absolutely first-rate local businessman with the skills to turn CCSD around has been available all along. I am of course referring to Jim Rogers. Carolyn Edwards and others, I am urging you to reverse course and let Jim Rogers provide the leadership and direction that you need to put CCSD on the right track. Anyone reading this that agrees, please make your voices heard.
Steve RomeoApr 13, 2013 10:45:39 AM
I feel that regardless of where we get a new superintendent from (local or not) that there needs to be a change of emphasis in the district, We have long focussed on our low end achieving students. I think it is time to focus on our students who really want to achieve. I wold hope the new superintendent would emphasize programs such as STEM, would emphasize the value of AP courses and the importance of passing them, and woud open a school for highly gifted students. For years we have focussed on marginal students who drop out at an alarming rate. Let's do something for our kids who care (and we have plenty of them). and make this a quality district for students who truly want to be educated.
SteveApr 12, 2013 10:09:21 AM
I think the main reason why we can't seem to keep superintendents very long is due to the size of the district. CCSD is something like the 4th or 5th largest school district in the nation. It is very unwieldy and hard to manage. It needs to be split into at least 2 separate districts or at the very least restructured to have regional superintendents.
SeanApr 11, 2013 11:24:02 AM
Points well taken. However, please be aware that CCSD does just that with Regional Superintendents managing specific geographic areas or special needs schools reporting directly to the Superintendent.
Yvette WilliamsApr 12, 2013 00:26:41 AM
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