Last week, school principals all over southern Nevada scrambled to turn in a newly-revised school budget. The budgets had to be revised because the Clark County School District was requiring the schools to collectively absorb an unexpected $43 million in cuts. To make things more exciting, the principals were given less than two weeks to make this major budget slash. The deadline to up-end academic plans for all CCSD schools was last Wednesday. The final effect was that many carefully considered long-term goals suddenly got a LOT longer.
Interestingly, the very next day, after the principals put away their budget-slashing knives, those same tools were picked up again by the Trustees for a different purpose. This time it was to slice off a healthy helping of CCSD pork. On Thursday night, with a divisive 4-3 vote, the CCSD Board of Trustees approved a three-year contract for the incoming Superintendent Jesus Jara.
Mr. Jara will be pulling down $320,000 in annual base pay alone. That is nearly a 14 percent increase over the current superintendent’s base salary of $280,788 this year. That salary is locked in for a period of three years, a long time for a probationary period. It makes one wonder: When did CCSD teachers last see a new contract with a 14 percent increase in base salary? When did principals last get a 14 percent increase in their strategic budgets for the actual education of kids in the schools?
The new superintendent’s benefits package is equally rich. He gets up to $10,000 to relocate his family and belongings from Florida. It begs the question: During the recent shortage of teachers in CCSD, what kind of relocation benefits were offered to the best and brightest of teachers throughout the country to draw them here?
The new contract specifies $700 per month to the superintendent in personal automobile expense reimbursement. That gets him a seriously nice ride! But here comes those nagging questions again: What kind of cars are the teachers driving to school every day? Does the district pay for them or do they shoulder the payments on those vehicles themselves? Is it anything like $700 per month?
The district is also supplying Mr. Jara with all of his technology needs: a new cell phone, Ipad, laptop computer and even his own printer. How does that compare to what the teachers have in their classrooms?
Plus, he gets $600/month for general expenses. How many teachers have had to come out-of-pocket to buy supplies for their classrooms – paper, pencils, markers, incentive awards for students and whatever else – because the schools don’t have it in the budget to supply those things?
Admittedly, Mr. Jara is indeed a big-wig. After all, he is the deputy superintendent for Orange County Public Schools in Florida. True, that is a much smaller district than the CCSD; but that’s no matter. It is a well known fact that to be considered a top, hot-shot candidate a person only needs two things: first, to come in from someplace far away; and second, to carry a very expensive briefcase. Apparently, to at least four of the seven trustees, Mr. Jara’s briefcase was fancy enough to make him the hotshot of choice.
We are repeatedly told that it takes a serious salary to entice a serious candidate. The fact that the locally proven second-in-command, who was the preferred candidate for most parents, might have settled for a more modest salary just goes to show that he was a less serious candidate. Besides he was not from out of town so how big of a hot-shot can he be? (We don’t know anything about his briefcase.)
But funding really shouldn’t be an issue, should it? After all, is anything too expensive for our CCSD bureaucracy? It’s our kids we’re talking about here, we should spare no expense, right? Yes sacrifices must be made. In order to draw the best talent to the CCSD central administration sometimes you have to squeeze funding from schools. It’s done all the time.
Besides, the kids will always be there. The principals will always have their hands out, looking for more classroom funding.
But this; this is serious trustee business! The Trustees might only get one chance to collect a top-of-the-line, leather briefcase-toting new Superintendent for their bureaucrat-in-chief position.
So perhaps we should all be grateful that the district has deep enough pockets to put down the real money where it counts. Because heaven only knows, no self-respecting hot-shot would ever want to come and get himself tied up in the miserable CCSD mess otherwise.