weather icon Clear
RJ App
Vegas News, Alerts, ePaper

Poll: Schools chief upside down in ratings

Updated May 15, 2023 - 7:26 pm

Clark County School District Superintendent Jesus Jara is viewed unfavorably by just more than half of likely voters, according to a poll commissioned by the county’s teachers union.

The poll — conducted May 6-9 — surveyed 600 people and carries a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. It was conducted by David Binder Research on behalf of the Clark County Education Association.

The survey found that 51 percent regard Jara unfavorably, while just 14 percent approve. The Clark County School Board fares slightly worse, with 56 percent viewing the board unfavorably and between 10 and 13 percent in support.

By contrast, Gov. Joe Lombardo enjoys a 50 percent approval rating, with 35 percent dissatisfied. The union itself has between a 42 percent and 47 percent unfavorable rating, depending on whether it was identified by its formal name or “the teacher’s union.”

The poll found that 43 percent of those surveyed favored the School Board firing Jara, while just 23 percent opposed such a move. Another 34 percent were unsure.

But after being read a series of so-called “push” questions, including the fact that teachers are leaving Clark County schools, that they are paid less than the average of all other Las Vegas jobs, that Jara was previously fired and then re-hired by the School Board, that average household expenses in Las Vegas exceed the average teacher’s salary and that 75 percent of teachers union members have no confidence in Jara, support for his termination rose to 71 percent, while opposition fell to just 14 percent.

And, following that section of the survey, the poll found that 62 percent of people support a recall of School Board trustees if they did not fire Jara, while 19 percent opposed such a move, and 18 percent were unsure.

‘Bad-faith effort’

The school district dismissed the poll as a tactic to influence ongoing contract talks.

The union “continues its targeted ‘research’ and ‘polls’ in a bad-faith effort to influence contract negotiations,” the district said in a statement. “Given the dubious nature of previous survey results promoted by the teachers’ union in southern Nevada, the District questions the validity of any polls not shared publicly. If the survey exists, it must be shared with the public to verify its legitimacy.

“Despite the best efforts of (the district) to address the critical needs of our students in the lowest performing schools, (the teachers union) continues to obstruct progress in meeting the needs of our students — even as much as filing an EMRB complaint against us — which they lost. The District’s other bargaining units have contracts and compensation in place to serve those students needing the most support in the Transformation Network,” the district’s statement adds.

Schools poor, teachers better

The poll found that 22 percent of respondents said the cost of living was the biggest issue facing Las Vegas, with 19 percent saying public schools were the largest problem. A total of 43 percent said Clark County schools were “poor,” with 7 percent rating them “excellent” or “very good.” But 25 percent said Clark County teachers were “excellent” or “very good,” with 11 percent saying they were “poor.”

And 70 percent said Nevada spends too little on its schools, with 88 percent saying they either strongly or somewhat support Lombardo’s decision to devote $2 billion of Nevada’s budget surplus to education.

The poll is the latest volley in the union’s aggressive push to advance its agenda, both in Carson City and with an eye on the 2024 election. Union members have gone door to door in the districts of legislators during the session, and have repeatedly demanded accountability from the district for how additional money devoted to schools will be spent.

This story has been updated to reflect that the Clark County School Board fared slightly worse than the superintendent in the poll.

Contact Steve Sebelius at SSebelius@reviewjournal.com. Follow @SteveSebelius on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Gun found in bushes at Rancho High School

Rancho Principal Darlin Delgago said a staff member found the weapon and contacted Clark County School District police. The Metropolitan Police Department is investigating.