By Ken Small
Special to the Las Vegas Tribune
Typical of many decisions by the Clark County School Board, the Board public notice was made in such a way as to avoid allowing the public’s right to know and participate. While the school board frequently blames lack of public participation for the failure of education in Nevada, the outreach during this important decision was virtually non-existent. In the case of hiring the new superintendent, it was obvious that the school board did not want to hear from parents on a decision that appeared to be a forgone conclusion. Followers of the CCSD standard public notice system on Clark County School Districts’ website would have found it impossible to know that the school board planned to consider hiring Pat Skorkowsky on May 21.
Standard public notice was made on a topic too broad for anyone reading it to know that they may be hiring a new superintendent that day. The topic of hiring a superintendent, worded broadly, has been on most agendas since the last superintendent quit. The public notice was made for the board topic for May 20. During the May 20 meeting, the board decided to “continue” the meeting to May 21. The 21st was the day that the board did the hiring vote. While the public did not know what was going on, those who saw the view from local TV noted the uncharacteristic presence of dignitaries, such as the head of the teachers union, in the spectators’ area. So, while word reached the teachers union, which highly supported the decision, parents went uninformed.
Pat Skorkowsky, a 25-year veteran of the district, was widely hailed by the school board as advocating change. During his 25 years he was mostly an administrator. Mention was made to the press of his support for the ongoing programs instituted by prior superintendent Jones, who departed suddenly about the time that it was realized that the centerpiece of Jones’ program was not going to work with the state programs being put in place.
Former School Board Candidate Kevinn Donovan said, “It’s almost as if what played out was planned prior to the meeting, like a play… This is no frivolous item and therefore the trustees should be sanctioned and removed from office as provided for in the state statute.” NRS 241. By Friday, May 24, the public was in such a furor over the unnoticed vote that the school board relented and agreed to give proper notice before voting again. With the support of the teachers union and the 100 percent Democrat school board, little doubt exists that Skorkowsky will be again selected during the properly noticed meeting. His predecessor was paid over $350,000 in combined benefits. Expectations are that the salary will not be reduced given the management techniques typically used by the board.