17 Dec CCSD changes fall in line with AB394 discussions

In the 2015 Nevada Legislative Session, legislators voted to approve Assembly Bill 394. This bill requires that the Clark County School District (CCSD) be reorganized by no later than the 2018-19 school year through the work of two committees that were formed to study how best to reorganize. There have been four committee meetings that have explored several different areas of consideration. Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky and the Board of School Trustees sent a letter to employees in early December to explain they are working collaboratively with the committees to find solutions that fall in line with the goals of AB394 while still providing access and opportunity to all students.

“The steps we announced were options we had been exploring for quite some time and seeing how they fell in line with the conversations on AB394 it was clear that we should move forward.”

Skorkowsky said the announcement addressed student achievement, teacher shortage, local strategic control at the school level and maximized efficiency, which are critical topics in the AB394 conversation.

Instructional Coaches (ICs)  

One of the first steps that occurred was transitioning approximately 100 ICs back into classrooms as well as identified central office Project Facilitators. Currently ICs have already found their new classroom and have begun the transition.

“Unfortunately we have a critical teacher shortage,” said Chief Student Achievement Officer Mike Barton. “It was a tough decision, but we look forward to having additional students benefit from the expertise the teachers will bring to the classroom.”

Dr. Barton met with the ICs to guide them through the process determine a school assignment that is best suited for them.

In order to alleviate the void of having ICs, Performance Zones will be able to use those remaining funds paid for through grants to provide professional development opportunities for their staff or for teacher recruitment. Additionally, in order to further benefit from the expertise ICs provide, concessions will be made for schools to offer paid extended time to continue to provide mentoring to less experienced teachers within those schools.

“Filling more classroom vacancies while still providing a path for our experts to continue mentoring other teachers maximizes the talents and skills of our Instructional Coaches,” said Barton.

Instructional Design and Professional Learning (IDPL) Division

Another announcement that was made was the reorganization of IDPL services by July 2016.

“Currently we are working to determine what departments would best serve all students by remaining centralized and identifying those whose support to schools would be optimized by positioning them at a local school or Performance Zone level,” said Skorkowsky.

According to Superintendent Skorkowsky some departments are likely to remain centralized while others could be redesigned as a hybrid between central support services and localized support services.

“The goal is to maximize efficiency while making the best use of the skills of our IDPL staff members to provide services for our students,” Skorkowsky added.

Strategic Budgets

The memo also included information about the expansion of strategic budgets in schools.This model will allow school leaders to make certain decisions on how best to allocate the funds in their school according to their needs. Currently 180 schools follow the Strategic Budget Model. Chief Financial Officer Jim McIntosh said that training will be provided to school leaders to budget effectively.

“This provides schools with more local control and principals will have the opportunity to make decisions like adding a reading skills center or new teaching positions in lieu of another funded project,” said McIntosh. Principals will also be accountable to demonstrate the outcomes of their budgeting decisions.

“We know that principals know what their students need most, providing them with the resources to prioritize their needs empowers our principals to best serve their student population,” he added.

Educational Services Division (ESD)  

Currently CCSD has five behavioral schools and two continuation schools that provide resources and more personalized attention to students who have been temporarily removed from comprehensive school campuses for behavioral offenses. The Superintendent announced that they are exploring how behavioral schools and continuation schools could best be utilized. A committee of key stakeholders (community leaders, school administrators, staff and bargaining unit representatives) will explore best practices and offer recommendations as the District moves forward.

“Since we cannot predict enrollment in behavior schools throughout the school year, it’s hard to gauge how to properly staff and provide supports to behavioral schools and we find that in some cases we are not seeing the greatest return on investment. We want to make sure we are making decisions that have the greatest impact,” Skorkowsky said.

It still could be two years before the AB394 committees make a final decision on how best to reorganize CCSD, but Superintendent Skorkowsky said the District will continue to move forward with decisions that maximize student achievement.

“I know this process isn’t easy for our employees and that there are a lot of questions still left in the air,” said Superintendent Skorkowsky. “However, rest assured that we are working hard to provide information to the committees so they have all the knowledge they need to make the best decision for all students, parents, employees and the community.”