The Clark County School District’s trustee in District C has been Linda Young since 2008. But now, as she faces term limits, a field of seven candidates is running to replace her.
Antonio Bowen is a CCSD graduate who says he saw his classmates failed by the district. Now active on other local boards, including the UNlV Foundation, Bowen says he has the experience necessary to the trustee role.
Reflecting on the board’s work this year, Bowen said that broadly speaking, the board takes its direction from the superintendent and communicates it to the community, rather than the other way around. He specifically pointed to a decision by the district to suspend prayer before board meetings after a request from a Wisconsin nonprofit as an example of the board not prioritizing its own constituents.
“How can we answer an organization from out-of-state in less than a day, but our own community has to wait?” he said.
Looking ahead, Bowen said he’d like to see a number of initiatives bring equity to District C, including a project to provide city wifi to all K-12 students in the area. On a larger scale, he said he’d like to see an overhaul of the existing funding formula.
With a background in teaching, Barbara Dreyer said an educators’ perspective is essential to have on the school board. Without it, the board makes decisions that look or sound good on paper, but aren’t feasible in a classroom, she said.
“It’s like making teachers be guinea pigs over and over again,” she said.
One of Dreyer’s priorities is to restore trust in the board and build up the district’s relationships with community partners to encourage collaboration, she said. She says she also wants to see the district do a better job retaining its highly qualified teachers, while keeping any potential budget cuts away from the classroom.
“We need to get class sizes reduced, because that affects our ability to function safely and effectively,” she said.
Carol Ferranti is a CCSD parent with a law enforcement background in both civilian and sworn officer positions. She says she was inspired to run for the school board seat by her son’s experiences with special education at the district.
Since her own family struggled for years to secure the appropriate services and designations for her child to address his special needs, she said her priority is to ensure other families and their children know their rights under the Individuals with Disability Education Act and have access to the support they need.
“He asked me to make sure I have a voice for him,” she said.
Ferranti said she also prioritizes transparency, and will work to improve the district’s communication with the community.
Evelyn Garica Morales
Evelyn Garica Morales is a Mojave High graduate and now the executive director of the Fulfillment Fund, which works with low-income and first-generation students.
She says that with experience managing large budgets and an understanding of school funding, she’s ready to tackle the work of being a trustee. The current board has made difficult decisions lately, she said, offering praise for a $13 million purchase for Chromebooks to improve access to online learning during school closures.
She also said she’d like to learn more about the struggles of the schools in her district, many of which are 1- or 2-star schools. Looking ahead, if there are budget reductions, Morales said she would like to avoid cutting costs in the classroom.
“The community and educators are already struggling with a lack of supplies and budget cuts,” she said. “Students get the brunt of that.”
Tameka Henry is the mother of four CCSD students as well as a product of the school system she’s seeking to represent. She sits on the board for the Headstart program and has found it to be so effective, children are often ahead of kindergarten standards.
Having lived in District C her whole life, Henry said the area needs additional support, citing specifically the disparity in access to technology during school closures.
“Thinking of my neighbors across the street, their kids go to the neighborhood school, and the access to technology was not there to continue learning,” she said.
If elected, she said she’d like to continue the tradition of hosting town hall meetings for the area in order to build relationships with families. She also hopes to collaborate with other trustees and district administrators on solutions for District C.
Having served on the district’s Bond Oversight Committee, Walter Jones says he believes he has the business sense to help the district balance its budget, as well as the political acumen to hold legislators accountable for fully funding education.
He said he’d also prioritize equity, diversity and inclusion initiatives, as well as maintenance at historic schools like Las Vegas High School.
“And I’d like to get more dads involved,” he said. “It brightens a kid’s day when they know their dad cares.”
Jones pointed to the issues with the rollout of the district’s human capital management system as an example of something he might have done differently as a trustee. For his district, Jones says he hopes to see passionate educators in the classrooms.
With a background in IT, Noel Searles said he’s seen large organizations struggle with the shift online in the wake of COVID-19. He’d like to apply his experience to help CCSD create a plan that will both ensure fewer disruptions should schools shut down again, as well as modernize what he describes as an 18th century system.
“It’s to be expected, but that doesn’t mean they should give up,” he said.
Apart from his focus on technology, Searles also said he’d like to see more emphasis on trade schools and career and technical education skills, and believes in the importance of school choice. Looking ahead, he says he’d like to see a reduction in class sizes and more efforts to retain educators.