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School Board reappoints Skorkowsky as CCSD superintendent

Updated Monday, June 3, 2013 | 9:10 p.m.

Pat Skorkowsky

Pat Skorkowsky

Superintendent salaries for the 6 largest school districts

  • New York City – $212,000
  • Los Angeles – $330,000
  • Chicago – $250,000
  • Miami-Dade County, Fla. – $275,000
  • Clark County, Nev. – $270,000
  • Broward County, Fla. – $275,000
  • The Clark County School Board unanimously reappointed Pat Skorkowsky as superintendent on Monday amid concerns about the transparency of his initial appointment two weeks ago.

    The School Board did a "do-over" of its May 21 meeting, when it unanimously appointed Skorkowsky as the leader of the nation's fifth-largest school district overseeing more than 311,000 students. This re-do came about after two complaints were filed with Nevada's Attorney General's Office, alleging a violation of the state's open-meeting law.

    The complainants — Michael Bluestein and Kevinn Donovan — argued the agenda item was not specific enough to allow the School Board to appoint Skorkowsky. Donovan filed a second complaint on Friday, saying the School District did not post Skorkowsky's resume in a timely fashion.

    Bluestein and Donovan, among others, argued the school district should conduct a wider search instead of choosing Skorkowsky without considering any other candidates. Bluestein pushed for a national search while Donovan proposed the district's human resources department should take job applications. Neither took issue with Skorkowsky as superintendent but with the process in which he was chosen.

    "I'm not saying Pat Skorkowsky is the problem," Donovan said. "But if you're not going to compare him with anyone else, it's not the right way to go."

    "There's no disrespect for Pat," Bluestein said. "(But) you just voted for the status quo. The system needs deep cultural change."

    In an "abundance of caution," the School Board unanimously voted to rescind Skorkowsky's appointment and conduct another public comment session.

    School Board members argued their vote to rescind Skorkowsky's appointment is not an admission of wrongdoing. They said they went "above and beyond" to seek public input, conducting more than a dozen community meetings and a districtwide online survey for more than a month.

    The majority of speakers, including teachers, students and parents, at Monday's meeting said they supported Skorkowsky. They said they favored someone who was local, and a veteran employee who knows the district's challenges well. Many didn't seem to have an appetite for a "costly" national search.

    "We just love him," said School District receptionist Leanne Ferdig. "We know that he cares about us and our students. He will lead us in the direction we need to go."

    Some parents, however, took issue with the School District's hourlong interview with Skorkowsky and the dearth of other candidates considered for the position. They said they were concerned that Skorkowsky, who has 25 years of experience in the district, would be a "status quo" leader who wouldn't be able to elevate the district's performance.

    "It's an idiot decision to hire him after 25 years of failure," said Michael Hollis, a parent and former district athletic coach.

    Zhan Okuda-Lim, a Valley High School graduate and current Princeton University student, said the School Board and the public should give Skorkowsky a chance to prove himself.

    "All of us agree something needs to change," said Okuda-Lim, who is interning with the School District this summer. "But just because someone's been in the district for 25 years doesn't necessarily mean that he's going to be status quo."

    After a lengthy public comment session, School Board members unanimously threw their support behind Skorkowsky and voted 7-0 to reappoint him, citing improvements at Skorkowsky's schools and his broad support from staff.

    "He is a known quantity," School Board member Linda Young said of Skorkowsky. "We can continue the reform work we have started."

    Barring any investigation from the Attorney General's Office, the School Board will now discuss how much to pay Skorkowsky.

    His predecessor Dwight Jones, who unexpectedly resigned in March, was paid a base salary of $270,000. However, with benefits such as a $700 per month car allowance, Jones' annual salary was closer to $387,000, according to TransparentNevada.com

    School Board President Carolyn Edwards again advocated for an annual base salary of $250,000 with an $80,000 bonus to be paid after four years. Edwards said the bonus would be an incentive for Skorkowsky to stay at least four years. During Skorkowsky's fifth year as superintendent — his 30th year in CCSD — he can start pulling from his pension.

    However, School Board members Lorraine Alderman and Linda Young said they weren't supportive of offering bonuses and substantial perks for Skorkowsky.

    "I don't want another Gucci contract," Alderman said.

    Edwards said she hopes to hammer out the details of a contract by the end of the month. She said she expects a "simpler" contract since Skorkowsky won't require any moving expenses.

    The School Board also will conduct a retreat in early August to set expectations and guidelines for Skorkowsky's tenure.

    School Board members called on the public to support Skorkowsky, now that he has been reappointed. In time, board members said they hoped the public will see their decision and confidence in Skorkowsky as "the right decision."

    "Let's come together to support the work that needs to be done," Edwards said. "We will do that better if we are joining together instead of fighting."

    For more details of Monday night's special School Board meeting, read Las Vegas Sun education reporter Paul Takahashi's tweets:

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