Lawsuit, costly resources add to urgency of Clark County School District overhaul

The awkward overhaul of the Clark County School District continues its messy slog toward an August deadline amid obstacles that include a lawsuit and urgent need for costly resources.

The complaint that the district filed in Carson City court last month seeks an injunction against parts of the law’s regulations, after concerns from School Board trustees were largely ignored for months.

Trustees have argued the effort is not an attempt to halt the shakeup of the district, but the state Department of Education believes otherwise.

“Clearly this is aimed at stopping the implementation of the reorganization, and the department supports implementation of the bill,” said state education spokesman Greg Bortolin. “We will continue to work to see that it’s implemented.”

The attorney general’s office, which was served the lawsuit on Tuesday, declined to comment on the pending litigation.

Meanwhile, the Community Implementation Council tasked with overseeing the rollout continues to work with the consultant TSC2 Group to identify critical needs for the reorganization. Among them: a weighted student funding formula and technology system to manage needs for the district’s roughly 41,000 employees.

TSC2 Group President Tom Skancke said the technology system could cost as much as $46 million and take a year to fully install.

“The urgency and the crisis is here,” he told the council Wednesday. “And my fear is that we do all of this work, and we don’t have the technology to back it up.”

Skancke and others have encouraged the council to forge relationships with the business community to help.

Council Chair Glenn Christenson said the lawsuit has not stopped the overhaul, saying at Wednesday’s meeting that sometimes parties sue over laws or regulations they don’t like.

“It happens,” he said. “But through it all, it’s important not to lose sight of what really matters here, and that is improving student outcomes in our community.”

The reorganization of the nation’s fifth-largest district gives more power to schools, which will be run by organizational teams consisting of parents, teachers and staff.

Schools still must begin crafting their individual budgets — but without the weighted funding formula that would assign more money to students in special categories, such as those receiving free and reduced lunch.

The state Department of Education and district have argued over who should decide the determined amount for each student. Only a weighted formula for special education students currently exists.

Despite the challenges, Christenson believes the rollout could still be done in time for the next academic year.

“But it’s going to take a lot of work,” he said. “Anything that is a barrier to completing this effort is a problem, so we’re focusing on things that can be done to get over the finish line.”

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

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