Las Vegas Sun

September 2, 2014

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OTHER VOICES:

Jones steered district on a path to progress

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Carolyn Edwards

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Last week, Clark County School District Superintendent Dwight Jones announced that he is leaving the district to care for his elderly mother. His announcement was a shock to many in the community who worry for the district’s 311,000 students and 38,000 employees.

I want to give you my perspective as someone who helped select Jones, who supported him during his tenure and, reluctantly, now supports his decision to leave the district.

The members of the Board of Trustees are disappointed to see jones depart, despite some uninformed speculation in the media. He has shifted the status quo in his short tenure, helping the district and the community rethink what is possible for our students.

Jones showed us that we can move achievement forward for all students — regardless of their ethnicity, special needs, socioeconomic background or what language they grew up speaking.

Our test scores are up, our graduation rates are up, and the number of junior and senior dropouts is down. We have more fifth-year seniors than ever who are not giving up on earning a diploma.

One of Jones' lasting legacies in the district and throughout the state is the School Performance Framework. Jones worked with several committees of teachers, administrators and community members to create a district SPF that would best reflect a school’s ability to take students — those who are rich or poor, black or white, advanced or behind — and ensure they achieve a year’s worth of growth. This drives down to Jones' firm belief that every child can learn, regardless of his or her background. It also goes to his firm belief that we must shine light on school achievement to see where instruction is working and where it is not.

The district’s SPF was so successful that the state Department of Education and Washoe County created their own versions, using ours as a blueprint. We are now honored to work with educators from throughout Nevada to agree on one statewide SPF.

Jones also showed us that the district can be more transparent. He launched the “Open Book,” an online budget tool for the community to see where we spend every dollar. He had no “sacred cows.” He slashed the central office budget by 20 percent and found innovative ways to save funds, redirecting all money saved back into the classroom.

Now, the trustees face many questions. On Thursday, we will meet to determine how to conduct a search for a new superintendent who will not lose the momentum we’ve gained. We need a leader who builds on the progress we’ve made.

When he started the job, Jones wrote, “to reach new lands, you first must push off into the rough seas.” He helped us navigate record budget cuts, difficult contract negotiations and the typical resistance posed whenever there is major change, and this district is better for his efforts.

We have charted our course. We are on our way. I am sad to lose our captain, but it’s not about him. It’s about our shared vision that the district will serve each and every child who walks onto a CCSD campus.

We chose Jones because he held this vision and he wanted to turn the boat. We aren’t going to change our course just as we are seeing progress. If anything, we are more determined than ever to continue improving the instruction we offer to our children, working with our staff and parents.

Trustees will need your input and support over the coming months during this transition. I look forward to the conversation.

Carolyn Edwards is the president of the Clark County Board of School Trustees.

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  1. I'm sorry to see Mr. Jones leave so soon. But I have no problem with him doing so. Family, job? Family, job? Family first. Always. If the Pope can give a 2 week notice, so can the CCSD Super. Now's the time to assess the possibility of breaking CCSD into 2 or more school districts to make the educational reforms and progress quicker. Thanks to Mr. Jones for the work he did, and all the best to him and his mother and the Jones' family.

    CarmineD

  2. More of the same drivel. Clark County public schools, like most throughout the USA, are a failure, sucking up resources while doing an absloutely putrid job! If not publicly financed, it would have died a quick death years ago given its dismal record. Given true "choice," any parent with his or her child's best interest at heart, would long ago have fled the system. As long as "progressives" have the system in a choke-hold, it cannot be saved and should be given the death knell. Vouchers should be given parents for each child which enable them to make the choice as to which educational facility is best suited to teach their child, not some pencil-pushing unelected and unaccountable bureaucratic drone. Of course that will not happen easily since "progressives" want to keep as many children as dumb as they can so they mindlessly vote for Dumbocrats and, more importantly, do not have the educational background to compete with their priviledged children. Public education - the new & improved "plantation!"

  3. Much of the real work will be in wrangling with Lawmakers this Nevada State Legislative Session about SUSTAINABLE funding of education, which is the most immediate and treachereous of waters. Although Superintendent Jones will be leaving, he as that captain of a mighty educational vessel, has left the school district in the hands of trained, and very capable CO-captains to stay the course he has forged over the past few years.

    Without consistent and SUSTAINABLE funding, all the programs and people put in place the last two and a half years are jeopardized. The school district cannot expect to retain educational staff without giving them a cost of living adjustment in their pay periodically, as food, fuel, insurance, and utilities keep going UP. Pay FREEZES can only be temporary, and should that practice be continued, the new hires after the next 2-5 years, will become frustrated and leave, affecting the quality of education for students.

    So for the health of our students, staff, and state, we must adequately fund Nevada's infrastructure. It all centers around THAT, and sadly, Superintendent Jones had reached that immoveable mountain that stands in the way of SUSTAINED success.

    Blessings and Peace,
    Star

  4. I concur with Jeff that these are largely self-serving comments whose purpose is to create a positive meme. Some in the community may have reacted with "shock", but many more reacted with relief. It should be noted that when one 'pushes off into rough seas" one should have the support of the crew and the treasury. Jones allowed his sponsors to dictate terms to the detriment of the crew and the treasury. It is instructive that those sponsors gratefully accept the "ill mom" rationale as their client bails out.

  5. If the trustees are seeking public input, then why are they holding a special meeting at 9:00AM Thursday to discuss the compensation of the interim superintendent and how to procede on the search for a new superintendent. Most of the public and all of the CCSD employees are working.
    What makes this even more questionable is that the same items are on the agenda for the regular board meeting at 4:00 PM on Thursday. Those are agenda items 6.02 and 6.03.

    Of course the trustees want input from the public.

  6. "It is instructive that those sponsors gratefully accept the "ill mom" rationale as their client bails out." Pat Hayes

    For an old wise man, this is a surprising and shocking statement to make. You don't kid and/or make up excuses about a mother's illness. We're not talking about Al Megrahi, we're talking about a decent hard working conscientious human being torn between two loves: His mother and his vocation. And Mr. Jones chose correctly.

    CarmineD