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CCSD trustees revive proposal to bring on outside consultant

A proposal to bring aboard Caesars Entertainment Corp. executive Jan Jones Blackhurst as an unpaid advisor for the Clark County School Board on legislative and policy matters will be part of a special trustees meeting called for Monday.

The meeting’s agenda includes a discussion on Jones Blackhurst filling that role for one year — a move that caught some trustees off guard.

The idea of having a consultant, suggested by District B Trustee Chris Garvey, sparked a strong reaction from Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky, who argued the plan would violate his contract. The move was also perceived as an attempt to remove power from the superintendent.

It was a contentious topic at a meeting last week, though Garvey said she would look into the idea of retaining a consultant for free and bring a “properly noticed” proposal back to the board.

Skorkowsky, who will be out of town next week on a vacation planned months ago, said Wednesday that the timing of the meeting seems a little disingenuous, particularly after the board agreed last week to move the matter to January.

The proposal’s timing suggests to some that there is an effort to pass the idea before District E Trustee Patrice Tew leaves the board — and along with it, her necessary vote of support.

District F Trustee Carolyn Edwards, District A Trustee Deanna Wright and District G Trustee Erin Cranor spoke against the idea last week, arguing for more discussion or detail.

Garvey denied speculation that the proposal is being pushed through at the last minute, arguing that the matter is one of urgency.

She noted that state Sen. Michael Roberson denied a request to move a Legislation Commission meeting on the reorganization regulations until after January.

“If we’re going to be ready for the beginning of the year when all this is rolled out and ready to go, the trustees need to be ready too,” she said.

She said she wants to respect the superintendent’s operational matters, but the trustees have a job to put in place good policy that will be good for students.

But Wright said she’s disappointed in board President Linda Young and Garvey for bringing the item to the meeting without being forthright about the matter.

At least two trustees didn’t know about the special meeting until they were notified an agenda was posted.

Wright thought the board had collectively agreed to bring the topic again for more discussion later.

“I feel that there are two trustees that want to exert their power,” Wright said.

Edwards said she doesn’t think trustees know the whole intent of the proposal.

“I don’t understand the urgency,” Edwards said. “The only thing that I can think of is that the urgency is because Patrice is leaving, but I don’t know that.”

Tew said she wants to hear the discussion on Monday, and appreciates the fact that it will be discussed for the public.

Cranor also said she wants to see how much opportunity trustees have to talk over the matter.

“My request was that we talk about the concept first, the concept of a consultant first, before it became talking about an individual person,” she said.

The topic is the latest issue with the district’s mandated reorganization, which has presented myriad challenges and concerns from trustees.

Trustees also will discuss hiring a full-time legal counsel for the board.

At their last meeting, trustees discussed how one of the board’s current lawyers was very busy and how they needed an attorney to be present at their meetings, according to Edwards.

Contact Amelia Pak-Harvey at 702-383-4630 or apak-harvey@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AmeliaPakHarvey on Twitter.

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