weather icon Clear

Parents give Jara, Clark County School Board earful over dean cuts

Updated June 13, 2019 - 11:18 pm

A public apology from Clark County School District Superintendent Jesus Jara was not enough to calm concerns from a rowdy crowd of parents, teachers and students who came out Thursday night to protest the decision to eliminate 170 secondary deans.

The cut was meant to close a $17 million deficit, the latest in a string of cuts that have occurred year after year — amounting to more than $120 million in cuts in the last two years alone.

But this time, Jara’s move to eliminate 170 middle and high school dean positions and announce it in an online video prompted anger from district employees blindsided by the decision. On Wednesday, district principals voted “no confidence” in Jara.

On Thursday, Jara apologized for the way he made the announcement this week, noting that he wanted everyone to find out from him at the same time.

“I made a calculated decision and obviously it didn’t go as planned — so to you, everyone here, I’m sorry,” he said. “And to this community and to our board, I will do better in our communication, especially when we are talking about employment of our dedicated staff.”

‘Fewer eyes watching our children’

Jara’s words did little to ease worries of parents, grandparents, teachers and other staff at Thursday’s School Board meeting.

Meghann Peterson, a parent and an Arbor View High School teacher, said that after the racial threats she told worried students that everything was being done to ensure they were safe as possible.

“This is no longer a response I can offer in good conscience,” she said. “There will be fewer eyes watching our children and fewer trusted adults to confide in when scary things happen.”

Suynn Davis, an Arbor View High School grandparent, wondered how the district would eliminate racism in schools without a dean.

She argued that parents there were told they would receive another dean after a recent racist incident in which two students threatened to shoot up the school in social media attacks geared toward black students.

“Which one of these deans in here is going to come to our school?” she said, motioning to the CCSD room full of deans. “… This is Arbor View, and our students are not safe. And when they found out that what you told us, you’re not going to hold to — how are we going to stand with you?”

Jara cited other funding sources that might help boost school safety. Statewide, that includes roughly $38 million statewide for school police officers and mental health professionals in one piece of legislation, about $17 million for school facility improvements in another, and roughly $13 million in another for more mental health workers, police officers and a social-emotional program.

The district is working to get two officers on every high school campus and has identified money for more K9 dogs to join its team that screens for weapons, he said.

Schools are also expected to get $25 million to $30 million in money from unfilled positions from last year that they may use for safety, Jara noted.

But staff members still wonder how they will keep schools safe without the deans, who handle discipline but also a wide array of administrative duties that now must be absorbed by other school administrators.

“There are schools in CCSD that have had multiple fights in a single day or even a single lunch period this year,” Spring Valley High School Principal Tam Larnerd said. “I wonder who broke up those fights — hmm. I wonder who met with the parents after the fights. We all know the answer: It was the dean of students.”

Fear of cuts elsewhere

Some schools might use money from vacant positions to pay for an employee that will do the work of a dean — which also prompted concern.

Foothill High School student Madison Flick worried about her school’s performing arts program being hit with the brunt of a $300,000 shortfall there. She noted the school’s band is one of the best in Nevada, and program directors have helped give students unique opportunities.

“These directors are now under the threat of being cut from our school,” she said. “Our program is under direct fire when it comes to the possibility of taking out performing arts programs in order finance Foothill and the assistant principal.”

Yet the move did get support from some attendees.

Clark County Education Association President Vikki Courtney voiced support for Jara’s collaboration during the legislative session.

The cut to deans was among a list of unpleasant options on the table as the district tries to cut a total of roughly $33 million to $35 million over the biennium in total.

Other options included cutting magnet programs, performing arts programs, athletics and related athletic transportation, and transportation for all schools.

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

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
Media's Double Standard On Incitement And Trump - Video
Over the weekend, an Elizabeth Warren-supporting socialist who opposed gun violence used a rifle to commit a mass murder in Dayton, Ohio. The media has downplayed that aspect of the tragedy.
Project Our Care Tour Kicks Off In Las Vegas
U.S. Rep. Dina Titus joined health care advocates and local residents as part of Protect Our Care’s nationwide bus tour kick off in Las Vegas on Monday, August 5, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders talks about guns, response to El Paso shooting
Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke about his response and continued policy ideas about guns and gun control to the Review-Journal after a panel of other topics. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pete Buttigieg On Gun Control And Climate Change - Video
Pete Buttigieg talks about his campaign for the 2020 election and how Nevada is a vision of what the future can be.
Beto O'Rourke speaks in Las Vegas
Presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke spoke to supporters at the East Las Vegas Community Center in Las Vegas, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2019. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former Nevada Senate leader Kelvin Atkinson sentenced to prison
Former Nevada Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson, who pleaded guilty to misusing campaign funds, was sentenced to 27 months in prison on Thursday, July 18, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trumps Strength is also a Weakness - Video
One of Donald Trump’s greatest strengths — his ability to shape national narratives — is also a great weakness.
Tax the Rich Bus Tour makes a stop in Las Vegas - Video
The Tax the Rich Bus has stopped in Las Vegas as part of its summer tour. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ - Video
Assembly Woman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ to bring the community together to hear about the candidates up for election and for people to gather and have fun.
Democrat Virtual Caucus - Video
Elizabeth Warren visits Las Vegas
Senator Elizabeth Warren made a campaign stop at the East Las Vegas Community Center on Tuesday July 2, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Aaron Ford Speaks About Bill AB431
AB431 is a bill sponsored by Nevada Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson to restore the right to vote for formerly incarcerated individuals. Attorney General Aaron Ford spoke at the AM&E Church in North Las Vegas about the bill, on Monday, July 1, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Right Take: Biden's Racially Questionable Comments
Joe Biden has uttered racially charged statements for years. Now that he’s the frontrunner for the Democrat presidential nomination, he may finally face prolonged scrutiny for them.
Christopher Rufo Discusses Homelessness In The USA - VIDEO
Christopher Rufo discusses homelessness in the United States and how politicians can work to improve conditions for those with drug addictions.
Clark County 2019 Election Results - Video
The 2019 Elections wrap up in Clark County including an upset in the Boulder City Mayor race.
Olivia Diaz talks about her win in Ward 3 - VIDEO
Las Vegas City Councilwoman-elect Olivia Diaz talks about her election win in Ward 3 and what lies ahead for her.
Greene discusses Read by 3 and Opportunity Scholarships - VIDEO
The Nevada Legislative Session is over and the results are mixed for Nevada students, according to Tom Greene, Senior regional legislative director, Excel in Ed in Action.
Bernie Sanders visits Las Vegas
Sen. Bernie Sanders made a stop at Roy W. Martin middle school on Thursday, during his campaign trail.
2 Northwest Las Vegas schools temporarily locked down

Two northwest valley schools were temporarily locked down Wednesday afternoon while officers looked for two people involved in a carjacking, Las Vegas police said.