Contract talks await school officials, superintendent pick

Clark County School Board members back Colorado Education Commissioner Dwight Jones as the next superintendent, but nothing is certain until both sides agree to a contract.

Previous superintendent searches have unraveled in the late stages for the School Board, which then had to start the intensive process over. In 1999, the two search finalists dropped out at the same time. Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Joseph Redden withdrew because of family considerations. West Virginia State Superintendent of Schools Henry Marockie withdrew amid a dispute about salary and perks.

In 2006, Eric Nadelstern, New York City’s chief academic officer, dropped out of contention, leaving then-interim Superintendent Walt Rulffes the lone finalist for the position he ultimately was given. In a memo, Nadelstern said he did not think he could work with a divided board.

“Anything can happen with a contract” negotiation, said School Board member Sheila Moulton, who was in office when the 1999 and 2006 searches took turns for the unexpected. “But I feel very good about Mr. Jones. He has the full support of all seven School Board trustees.”

While School Board member Linda Young did cast a dissenting vote Wednesday, it was because she was unhappy with the “rushed” process, not because she was displeased with Jones.

Assistant district attorneys Mark Wood and Mary-Anne Miller will represent the School Board in the contract negotiations.

Miller said talks could start as early as today, but she expects the “bulk” of the negotiation to take place next week.

Miller did not say how long the negotiation would take. She wants it completed “as soon as possible.”

Once Miller gets Jones’ terms and verifies that they’re allowable under Nevada law, she will present his requests to the School Board for consideration during a public meeting.

The School Board is offering a maximum salary of $270,000.

Jones, 48, earns $223,680 as the Colorado education commissioner. He was to be offered a 10 percent raise this year by the Colorado State Board of Education after a positive annual review, according to The Denver Post.

As an at-will state employee, Jones accrues 14 hours of vacation time per month before his fifth anniversary. After that, it increases to 16 hours a month, according to a standard contract. Jones started as education commissioner in June 2007.

He also accrues eight hours of sick leave a month. Jones is eligible for several different retirement and health care plans.

Another perk is reduced fees for public bus and light-rail passes, but the passes cannot be used for public transportation rides to Denver Broncos football or Colorado Rockies baseball games.

Jones beat out Dallas Independent School District Superintendent Michael Hinojosa for the Clark County job.

Hinojosa told The Dallas Morning News that he was relieved he did not have to pick between Clark County and Dallas.

In a statement, Jones said, “I look forward with enthusiasm to working with the educators, school staff and community in Clark County, and I will make the transition to Nevada as soon as I can ensure a smooth exit from Colorado. I am keenly excited about the work and challenges ahead.”

Contact reporter James Haug at jhaug@review
journal.com or 702-374-7917.

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