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Clark County School District superintendent reorganizes top leadership

A new superintendent won’t be the only major change in leadership for the nation’s fifth-largest school district when summer break ends in three weeks.

Clark County School District Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky is reorganizing his cabinet, creating four new positions on par with the deputy superintendent in that all five will report directly to him, he announced Wednesday to a receptive School Board.

“I’m very impressed with this work,” board President Carolyn Edwards said in response to Skorkowsky’s attempt to “realign” the top of the district to better coordinate among departments.

Previously, the deputy superintendent oversaw all aspects of instruction for the district’s 311,000 students, but those duties – and others – will be split among four chiefs and the deputy superintendent, said Skorkowsky, emphasizing that the changes will be “cost neutral.”

The new positions won’t increase the district’s central office spending because Skorkowsky hired all five cabinet members from within and, in most cases, they’re not relinquishing their former duties although their titles will change, said district spokesman Michael Rodriguez. New Deputy Superintendent Kim Wooden, for example, was previously student services officer. She will not be replaced in that position.

Rodriguez said salaries for the new positions haven’t been finalized, but some of the hires will receive raises and others will not. Recent retirements made funding for the pay raises available.

As deputy superintendent, Wooden will oversee educational and operational excellence, meaning she will focus on the efficiencies of the district’s facilities, food services, transportation, special education and gifted and talented programs, energy conservation, and emergency management departments.

Mike Barton, formerly associate superintendent of instruction services, will be chief student achievement officer. He will be responsible for reporting and improving student performance as measured by the graduation rate, proficiency on standardized tests, the state’s star-rating system and more. Reporting to him will be the district’s 16 academic managers overseeing the district’s 13 school zones.

As for employee performance, Staci Vesneske, formerly the district’s chief human relations officer, will be chief human capital officer responsible for the hiring and training of quality teachers and administrators.

Looking more closely at students, Andre Denson, formerly associate superintendent of the academic services division, will be the chief educational opportunity officer ensuring that low-performing student groups get access to support and do better in school. These students include those learning English, minorities, and those living in poverty.

Jhone Ebert, formerly chief technology officer, will be chief innovation and productivity officer responsible for finding new, improved ways of operating the district and educating students, also searching for outside funds to do so.

All four chiefs and the deputy superintendent are expected to contribute to improving student performance within their realms.

The reorganization won the support of Stephen Augspurger, executive director of the Clark County Association of School Administrators and Professional-technical Employees, who said it “ties key strands together” and forces different departments to communicate. But while it sounds good in concept, only time will tell whether it meets those expectations or ends up “one more fancy design,” he said.

“How does it translate from the office at West Sahara to 350 schools?” Augspurger said.

These five cabinet members aren’t new faces to the School Board or community. When the School Board was left in a lurch by the sudden resignation of Superintendent Dwight Jones last spring, it named Barton, Denson and Ebert as interim superintendent candidates, but chose Skorkowsky for the permanent job.

Last school year, Barton earned about $165,000 in total compensation, Denson earned $179,000, Ebert earned $183,000, Vesneske earned $189,000 and Wooden earned $199,000.

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