CCSD Reorganization to bring autonomy

The Clark County School District (CCSD) will face reorganization by the beginning of next year after nearly a decade of discussion meant to improve the success of CCSD students. The reorganization, which will break the district into precincts, aims to put more power into the hands of principals and stakeholders at the school level, rather than prescribing  one-size-fits all regulations across the currently fifth largest district in the nation.
“The theory is that the more input at a local level and more investment there are better graduation rates,” said CCSD Trustee Board member Carolyn Edwards.
Bill AB 394 was proposed in March of 2015 and approved by Governor Sandoval just three months later in June. Changes made by AB 394 will take effect starting the 2017-2018 school year for southern Nevada students.
AB 394 focuses on making schools “independent” in the way they guide students to success: with increases of autonomy during the 2017-2018 school year. With this independence, schools must create an organizational committee comprising of the principal, administrators, teaching staff, parents or community member, and a student-non voting member. The committee would make decisions about  how the school hires teachers and meets graduation requirements. The bill also shifts more control of funds to the principals, allowing them access to 80 percent of funds, rather than the previous 60 percent.
“Bill AB 394, which is the law that will reorganize CCSD, will bring big changes in the upcoming school years; parents, teachers, and students will have much greater control over school budgets which should lead to a more responsive education for all students,” said social studies teacher Jill Jaeger. “Hopefully parents, teachers, and students will take action and organize to help make an improvement to our school system here in Clark County.”
Orchestra teacher Mr. Kyle Martin agreed that the reorganization should be a positive change.
“I think the reorganization of the district will be a good opportunity for the individual schools to make changes that will help address the needs of its community,” Martin said.
The hope of the district board is that this reorganization will improve graduation rates across the valley, and also allow more control for individual schools.
Both Board Trustee Edwards and Principal Tam Larnerd expressed that it is up to the committee and principals to make many of the key decisions now.
“A lot of our money will go towards technology, textbooks, and then with the implementation of the IB magnet, we’ve got a tremendous amount of financial support to make that happen, but there is always an above and beyond cost to make that happen,” said Larnerd of how money will be used at Spring Valley.
Board Trustee Edwards stated that the school committee would be created by the principals of the schools and follow the guidelines set by Bill AB 394. Larnerd explained there would be an election process to choose these people.
Despite the many great things that come with more local control, some have concerns about the impacts.
“I think it would probably increase isolation,” Larnerd said. “Especially with the K12 alignment because you know Spring Valley is going to have its committee, Laurence is going to have its own committee, the elementary schools that feed into Laurence are going to have their committees and they all might have a different idea or understanding on how to best educate kids.”
“Despite possible concerns about the reorganization, Larnerd expressed hope and positivity, “I fully support it. I do think that the district is simply too big. I have an eighth grader in the district. My son attended Clark County School District (CCSD) schools and I’ve always thought for a long time that the district was just too big. I live in Henderson  and I think the needs for the community that where I live are different needs in other communities around the county.”