Clark County School Board candidates Erin Earlene Cranor and Joe Spencer were at odds long before they filed for the District G seat, which represents southeast Las Vegas and part of Henderson.
Spencer filed the complaint against incumbent Cranor in November, which led the Nevada Commission on Ethics to determine that she broke a state law forbidding use of taxpayer resources on campaigning. Cranor and other School Board members told district staff to send email blasts seeking volunteers in support of the Clark County School District’s 2012 ballot question requesting to increase property taxes.
The third candidate, Ira Kimball, is no stranger to education, having taught in Clark County schools for 30 years and Southern Nevada colleges for 20 years. He also advised the superintendent in the district’s 1985 bond campaign. Although Kimball, a retired teacher, and Spencer, an involved parent, come from different backgrounds, they’re running for the nonpartisan office for similar reasons.
“The Clark County School Board has totally lost credibility and confidence from the community it serves,” Kimball said, referring to the ethics violation made by every School Board member and questionable spending on consultants, such as school-operator EdisonLearning and a $1,000-per-day personality profiler. “It’s time to get new people on the board.”
Spencer also pointed to the ethics violation and what he considers careless spending.
“If you’re claiming schools are in such poor condition and crowded, why in the world are you spending money on personality profiles?” Spencer asked. “I think it’s time for a change. People want a change.”
The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported in mid-May that the district has personality profiles conducted for its leaders for about $350,000 during the past six years, according to district records.
Cranor agreed on the need for budgeting changes, but disagreed with the call for a leadership change. District leaders are beginning the process of re-evaluating all expenses to make sure they have an effect on the classroom, she said. Those that don’t will be dropped, she said.
“That’s exciting to me because it’s one of the things I wanted as an involved parent,” said Cranor, who in April approved with other board members spending $80,000 on the consultant providing personality profiles and leadership training. She contended that the profiles and leadership training affect schools.
But without any new money to build schools and alleviate crowding, especially at the elementary school level, district officials are examining the need for more year-round schools, districtwide rezoning, running double sessions and moving fifth-graders to middle schools.
Cranor said she’s “open to considering those, but doing so very carefully,” not jumping into any of these approaches.
“I don’t want anything off the table right now,” said Cranor, who hopes more options are proposed, such as the recent suggestion to rent empty commercial space to use for schools.
Kimball supported year-round schools as the best short-term fix to crowding, then double sessions, but is “totally opposed” to fifth-graders in middle schools.
Spencer doesn’t support any of these “short-term fixes.”
“I understand the need for tough decisions, but generally it’s better to make a long-term fix,” said Spencer, who opposes asking voters for more money to build schools through a property-tax increase, which the School Board considered for 2014.
Kimball and Spencer support such a request in 2016 if the district shows it spends taxpayers’ money wisely. That’s one of their goals if elected, to clean up district spending.
Cranor said she’d “enthusiastically support” a property-tax increase in 2016 to build new schools only if the district looked at all other options and found it the most efficient solution.
Contact Trevon Milliard at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0279. Follow @TrevonMilliard on Twitter.
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