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EDITORIAL: Pat Skorkowsy, superintendent of the Clark County School District, decides to retire

Caught up in a burgeoning controversy about the Clark County School District’s financial condition, Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky announced Thursday that he will retire at the end of the academic year.

Mr. Skorkowsky, who has been with the district since 1988 when he took a job as an elementary school teacher, rose through the administrative ranks before taking over the top post in June 2013. He insisted that he’s leaving on his “own terms,” but the timing and abruptness of his announcement say otherwise.

His successor will face severe challenges in running the country’s fifth-largest school district, not the least of which is navigating the many oft-conflicting interests seeking to influence education policy.

Test scores — among the worst in the nation — remain stagnant. In addition to a looming budget shortfall of at least $60 million that detractors have blamed on mismanagement, the district is currently in the midst of a reorganization intended to decentralize decision-making and provide more autonomy to individual campuses.

District trustees should begin the process of finding Mr. Skorkowsky’s replacement as soon as possible. The ideal candidate should be on board with the reorganization effort and focused on jump-starting the district’s moribund achievement levels. An emphasis on innovation and competition rather than the defective status quo also wouldn’t hurt.

In addition, the trustees must ensure that the search is conducted openly and transparently. Candidates who want their names cloaked in secrecy need not apply. Public confidence in the process demands no less.

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