A vacant seat at Wednesday’s Clark County School Board meeting will stay that way for a while.
Board member John Cole is resigning on June 19, with six months of his term left. Now, the board must decide whether to appoint a temporary replacement until voters elect a successor on Nov. 6.
If the School Board waits for the election, 266,000 people in northwest Las Vegas will be without representation on the board that governs the country’s fifth-largest school district.
That would be a mistake, said Cole, a 52-year-old business consultant who is moving to Denver for work. The replacement would be on the board for a short time only, but it’s an important time, Cole said.
Hundreds of teacher layoffs are imminent, Superintendent Dwight Jones has said. And the district is trying to sell voters on a six-year property tax increase to produce $669 million for school repairs and construction.
"I firmly believe there should be representation there for District E," Cole said.
But picking a fill-in must be done carefully if it’s done, senior board member Carolyn Edwards said. Because the seat is up for election, the board must not be seen as trying to influence the election. Therefore, the four candidates on the ballot are out of the question.
Cole suggested the board call on former board members to fill the seventh seat.
The board, however, can’t decide to replace Cole or leave his seat vacant until he resigns in writing, which he hadn’t done by Wednesday afternoon.
Then, the board must give two weeks’ notice before discussing it in a meeting, which probably would happen on June 21, according to board President Linda Young and Edwards.
Cole, who announced his resignation at Monday’s meeting, was board appointed in January 2011 to finish the four-year term of Terri Janison, who resigned.
A few months ago, Cole was running to keep his seat for four years. But he was on the fence from the beginning. He didn’t file for re-election until the last day possible, and then he pulled out of the race in April, citing work conflicts.
Contact Trevon Milliard at email@example.com or 702-383-0279.Superintendent goals
The Clark County School Board is setting a high priority on raising teacher morale and continuing academic improvement next school year.
"I’m worried about the morale of teachers," said board member Carolyn Edwards during a discussion Wednesday of board expectations for Superintendent Dwight Jones in 2012-13. Accomplishing them will ultimately affect Jones’ evaluation.
While Jones agreed that improvements in student performance such as the increase in the graduation rate from 59 percent in 2010-11 to the 65 percent expected this year must continue, he noted that low teacher morale isn’t his fault.
"I agree teacher morale is an issue," he said but emphasized that low morale is the result of hundreds of pending teacher layoffs. Jones wanted to avoid that by freezing teacher salaries, but the Clark County Education Association, which represents teachers, challenged the freeze and won in arbitration.