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Jara plans more than $400K in salary hikes for senior aides

Updated November 3, 2021 - 7:48 am

Clark County School District Superintendent Jesus Jara, whose contract was terminated last week, has informed trustees that he plans to award $408,564 in base salary increases to members of his Executive Cabinet.

In a memo to School Board members dated Monday — four days after they voted to terminate his contract — Jara said he had informed trustees early this year of “the need to review and revise the compensation structure.”

He also maintained that a regulation they approved in August provides him with the authority to adjust salaries for at-will employees.

He appeared to be referring to a section of Regulation 4291 that’s applicable to at-will administrators “ineligible for participation in collective bargaining.” It says their placement on the unified administrative salary schedule can be “reviewed and adjusted reflective of the employee’s experience, longevity, previous salary and the job requirements of the position” at the discretion of the superintendent.

It was not immediately clear whether any School Board members intend to challenge the superintendent’s decision to award the raises.

Jara said the raises are deserved. District staff did a review of “local and national compensation levels for comparable positions,” and found that the salary increases are necessary to “compete nationally for talent, and retain our existing talent at a time of instability,” he wrote in the memo.

16 would get raises

Sixteen district officials would get salary increases: deputy superintendent, chief of staff, chief of facilities, chief of communications, president and general manager of Vegas PBS (a CCSD employee), district police chief, chief human resources officer, chief financial officer, chief of operations, general counsel, chief information officer, chief academic officer, chief college, career, equity officer and three region superintendents.

The base pay increases would vary from more than $7,700 to nearly $45,000, amounting to raises of from 5 percent to nearly 28 percent.

The school district didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment late Tuesday afternoon.

But Stephen Augspurger, executive director of the Clark County Association of School Administrators &Professional Technical Employees, which represents the district’s principals, other administrators and other nonteaching or support staff workers, labeled the superintendent’s decision “unconscionable” and said it would be a slap in the face to every other employee in the district.

While not familiar with the specifics of the regulation Jara cited, Augspurger confirmed Executive Cabinet members are at-will administrators who don’t participate in collective bargaining.

Earlier in the day Jara sent an email to district staff telling them he will remain on the job until Dec. 1.

In addition to revealing his departure date, Jara thanked employees for their efforts to improve educational achievement in the nation’s fifth-largest public school district and urged them to continue to do so after he is gone.

“I pray that you remain focused on doing your work no matter who holds the title of superintendent,” he wrote.

The Dec. 1 departure date was not a surprise, as the school district on Tuesday confirmed reports that Jara’s contract calls for him to remain on the job for 30 days after its termination. That occurred on Thursday, when the Board of Trustees voted 4-3 to end his contract immediately “for convenience,” meaning they did not have to specify the reasons for his departure.

Jara has been superintendent since 2018 and his contract was to have run through Jan. 15, 2023.

Will Jara get severance pay?

The district directed an inquiry about whether there will be severance pay for Jara to School Board President Linda Cavazos. The newspaper has reached out to Cavazos multiple times since Friday, but hasn’t received the information.

Cavazos’ presidency also was put to a vote at last week’s board meeting, but the item was tabled.

In the email, Jara said he appreciates the “love and support” he has received from those in the district and community since the School Board’s decision.

“The achievements we made over the last three years for our students make me so proud, and I have no regrets for my decision to always put our kids first,” he said. “Together, we worked tirelessly to get back in the classroom, all while protecting and educating our children through the ravages of a worldwide pandemic. The employees of CCSD made this possible, and there is no better team to have had by my side through these efforts.”

Jara said it has been “the honor of a lifetime” to serve as superintendent and encouraged employees to “never lose sight of the reasons you chose a career in education.”

The School Board will meet at 5 p.m. Thursday at the Greer Education Center to consider the process for appointing an interim superintendent.

Contact Julie Wootton-Greener at jgreener@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2921. Follow @julieswootton on Twitter.

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