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September 2, 2014

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School Board OKs contract of Superintendent Skorkowsky

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Steve Marcus

Pat Skorkowsky, Clark County School District superintendent, listens to a question during an editorial board meeting at the Las Vegas Sun offices in Henderson June 11, 2013.

Pat Skorkowsky at Editorial Board Meeting

Pat Skorkowsky, Clark County School District superintendent, listens to a question during an editorial board meeting at the Las  Vegas Sun offices in Henderson June 11, 2013. Launch slideshow »

The Clark County School Board has approved a contract that will pay its new superintendent Pat Skorkowsky a base salary of $260,000 a year.

The contract, OK'ed during Thursday’s board meeting, will pay Skorkowsky $10,000 less than his predecessor who left the district in March, two years into a four-year contract. Former Superintendent Dwight Jones, who was the past education commissioner of Colorado, was paid a $270,000 annual base salary.

Skorkowsky also will receive a $700 per month car allowance, along with reimbursable expenses of $600 per month to offset attending community events and $4,000 annually for professional development.

Skorkowsky's total annual compensation, salary plus benefits, will be $279,600. He’ll also receive a $150,000 life insurance policy as well as long-term disability, medical, dental and vision insurance.

The School Board voted 4 to 1 in favor of Skorkowsky's contract. School Board member Linda Young cast the sole dissenting vote, arguing for a shorter, one-year contract. School Board members Lorraine Alderman and Patrice Tew were absent.

"I am honored to have a contract in place that allows me to continue serving the students and employees of the Clark County School District," Skorkowsky said in a statement. "This contract is a direct reflection of the values of the Clark County School District Board of Trustees and my personal emphasis on giving back to my community."

Skorkowsky became Clark County's 14th superintendent earlier this month after School Board members rejected to contract with a national search firm. That decision came after more than two months of public input meetings and surveys, which found wide public support for hiring locally.

The board initially appointed Skorkowsky to the district’s top post on May 21, but rescinded the decision then reappointed him at a June 3 meeting amid public concerns about the transparency of the initial appointment.

Skorkowsky has moved up the School District ranks from first-grade teacher to superintendent over his 25-year career in Clark County. He has no prior experience as superintendent elsewhere.

As the beneficiary of leadership turnovers, Skorkowsky's career took a meteoric rise over the past year.

In late July 2012, Skorkowsky became deputy superintendent, tasked with boosting classroom instruction. He replaced Pedro Martinez, who was tapped to lead the Washoe County School District. As deputy superintendent, Skorkowsky was paid an annual salary of $146,794.

When Skorkowsky was chosen as interim superintendent in mid-March, he received a $65,000 — or 45 percent — raise. His total compensation was about $212,300.

By becoming a permanent superintendent, Skorkowsky scored a $67,300 raise — a 32 percent increase. Over the course of the past year, Skorkowsky's compensation nearly doubled, from $135,082 as an associate superintendent to $260,000 as superintendent.

Although Skorkowsky will be paid a similar base salary as Jones, his benefits won't be as "exorbitant" as Jones', according to School Board member Erin Cranor.

Jones received more money for some benefits, such as $60 additional per month to attend community events, and had more perks overall, such as $15,000 for moving expenses.

Jones also was offered free housing for the first six months of his four-year contract. The Public Education Foundation, a local education nonprofit, collected $22,540 in public donations for the housing subsidy.

In all, Jones' benefits topped $57,800. In comparison, Skorkowsky's benefits package is a more modest $19,600.

In addition, some of Skorkowsky's benefits — such as his professional development and community events allowance — are reimbursable expenses. That means Skorkowsky won't receive the full benefits package unless he submits reimbursement forms.

Since Skorkowsky was named superintendent, School Board members have argued against approving another "Gucci contract," although what that actually meant was hotly debated.

School Board member Linda Young was adamant she would vote against any contract that mentioned a bonus. School Board member Chris Garvey was also hesitant on the bonus issue. Originally, Skorkowsky's proposed contract contained a $10,000 "year-end incentive" that would be paid out after every school year.

"Bonuses remind me of what happened with presidents and CEOs of banks on Wall Street," Young said. "If superintendent Skorkowsky gets a bonus, everybody gets a bonus."

School Board members Deanna Wright and Carolyn Edwards were in favor of the bonus. Edwards, who along with School Board member Patrice Tew helped draft the contract, said the bonus would encourage Skorkowsky to stay on as superintendent.

"I think $260,000 is fair," Edwards said.

Skorkowsky's salary is in line with superintendent salaries among the nation's 10 largest school districts. The following is a listing of superintendent base salaries. (Note: The salaries were compiled by the School District, and do not include benefit packages.)

    • 1. New York City Department of Education

      Salary: $212,614

      Student enrollment: 1,036,053

      Salary/student: $0.21

      Number of schools: 1,619

    • 2. Los Angeles Unified School District

      Salary: $330,000

      Student enrollment: 655,716

      Salary/student: $0.50

      Number of schools: 1,278

    • 3. Chicago Public Schools

      Salary: $250,000

      Student enrollment: 404,151

      Salary/student: $0.62

      Number of schools: 681

    • 4. Miami-Dade County Schools, Fla.

      Salary: $275,000

      Student enrollment: 342,713

      Salary/student: $0.80

      Number of schools: 392

    • 5. Clark County School District

      Salary: $270,000

      Student enrollment: 311,380

      Salary/student: $0.87

      Number of schools: 357

    • 6. Broward County Schools, Fla.

      Salary: $275,000

      Student enrollment: 260,796

      Salary/student: $1.05

      Number of schools: 316

    • 7. Houston Independent Schools

      Salary: $300,000

      Student enrollment: 203,354

      Salary/student: $1.48

      Number of schools: 276

    • 8. Hillsborough County Public Schools, Fla.

      Salary: $272,340

      Student enrollment: 200,533

      Salary/student: $1.36

      Number of schools: 266

    • 9. Hawaii Department of Education

      Salary: $150,000

      Student enrollment: 183,251

      Salary/student: $0.82

      Number of schools: 286

    • 10. School District of Philadelphia

      Salary: $300,000

      Student enrollment: 149,535

      Salary/student: $2.01

      Number of schools: 326

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    1. This contract for Superintendent Skorkowsky is reasonable and fair. It strikes a good balance when compared to other large American schools districts. Given the fact that district employees have had to "do more with less," since 2008, it is refreshing to hear School Board members echo some austerity especially after giving Jones the luxurious "Gucci" package. We should applaud "If superintendent Skorkowsky gets a bonus, everybody gets a bonus," voiced by School Board member Linda Young!

      During the years Jones was at the helm, one had the feeling of watching a reality television show, with Jones playing the part of a very pampered Diva, all the while the district as a whole suffered and tightened their belts. This had alienated the public and educational community. Although Jones had a commitment towards raising academic achievement, his vision could not go any further without the necessary funding that the State of Nevada controls. And as we all know, the State of Nevada has failed to sustainably and adequately fund its infrastructure, which includes education, spanning decades. We may never know if Jones was fully aware of this fact when he took on the job of being Superintendent of the 5th largest school district of the nation.

      At this point, Superintendent Skorkowsky gets a standing ovation for navigating the 77th Nevada State Legislative Session, bringing home the bacon in terms of funding for ELL students, reduced class size, mitigating the new administrative and teacher evaluations, and addressing district employee step/columns in tandem with the CCEA and NSEA employee unions. He knows working "together" gives optimal results, instead of being adversarial in relationships.

      So Linda Young's acknowledgement of working together and realizing the rewards or challenges as a team nets the best results. We either win or lose as a team, the educational game is not about one person's success, rather it is about student success and the whole CCSD working as a team!

      To coin Facebook terminology, slap the "LIKE" button to show your support of this kind and benevolent educational giant who grew from the ranks of teachers and now towers in leadership power. Our community and its students are blessed to have one of their own in the Office of the Superintendent here in Clark County. This makes us not only inspired, but also proud!

      Blessings and Peace,
      Star