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Bracken Academy principal in parents’ crosshairs at CCSD meeting

Another magnet school principal found herself the target of complaints, as a small group of parents from Walter Bracken STEAM Academy told Clark County School District trustees Thursday they didn’t agree with Principal Stanica Sretenovic’s changes to the school.

Diana Ramirez, a member of the School Organization Team, said Bracken parents have felt shut out of Sretenovic’s decisions, from eliminating an after-school computer lab and group counseling sessions to replacing hot lunches with prepackaged food.

She added that she believes that Sretenovic was charged with improving the star rating of the school, which had slipped in recent years, but that parents wanted to be involved in doing so.

“Bracken has a family culture. This has really affected teachers and parents because they feel this is their family. But when they spoke up, they were shot down,” Ramirez said.

Sretenovic did not return a request for comment from the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Bracken parents had drawn comparisons between their situation and the one at Clark High School, where Principal Antonio Rael was recently placed on work from home status after dozens of Clark parents complained about his work performance at the Dec. 5 Board meeting.

Ramirez said the tension began when Sretenovic was hired over the School Organization Team’s preferred choice for the job, but has since been compounded by what she describes as the principal shutting the door in the face of an active parent community.

But speaker Alma Avila told the board that Sretenovic had a target painted on her back since she took the job. Avila said that parents had grown accustomed to the previous principal, a 22-year school veteran who retired last year.

“Building those relationships takes time,” Avila said.

Bracken parents were not the only ones out in force at the Dec. 12 meeting. Spring Valley High School students, teachers and principal Tam Larnerd addressed the Board over funding cuts to the school’s AVID program, a college preparatory program targeted specifically toward underachieving students.

Spring Valley High is the state’s only AVID Demonstration School, a national recognition of the program.

Jara responded that schools have known for months that the district was planning to divert Title II funds from AVID programs to professional development programs to cultivate principals. Jara suggested that SOTs meet with schools to discuss finding money for the programs from the instructional supplies budget.

The board also approved a final budget for 2019-2020, which shows the district putting away the required 2 percent unassigned ending fund balance. But preliminary projections for 2021 show the district expects to post a $9.5 million deficit despite funding increases.

One of the night’s more dramatic moments took place outside of the boardroom, as maintenance workers confronted the district’s facilities chief, David McKinnis, over changes to their schedule that would have them work from 2 p.m. to midnight for preventive maintenance and emergency repairs.

They said that the change puts an undue burden on workers who can’t coordinate child care for those hours and that many repairs — like roof repairs — can’t be carried out at night.

But McKinnis said the workers were needed for maintenance that couldn’t be done while children were in classrooms. He also questioned why the maintenance department had 15,000 backlogged requests. Workers replied that the number of people in their department had been whittled down over the years.

Following a private meeting, the two sides agreed to future meetings on the issue.

Contact Aleksandra Appleton at (702) 383-0218 or aappleton@reviewjournal.com. Follow @aleksappleton on Twitter.

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