Pat, Personally

Monday, May 14, 2018

Thanking community partners for promoting literacy

The APPLE (All People Promoting Literacy Efforts) Partnership was founded 12 years ago by the Clark County School District (CCSD), the City of Henderson and the Henderson Library District. The purpose was to increase the amount of time students were reading outside of school. In the second year, we included the Henderson Parks and Recreation Department to get our students reading in the SafeKey programs before and after school. One of the components of the initial partnership is the APPLE CORE (Counting Our Reading Efforts) Program.

Upon being named superintendent, I reached out to the City of Las Vegas and the City of North Las Vegas to extend an opportunity for new APPLE CORE Programs in the schools within their boundaries. This year, 114 elementary schools in the three cities participated in the program. Students kept track of the minutes and hours they read on evenings and weekends and turned in bookmarks to their schools.

This last week, our CCSD K-12 Library Services staff, along with our community partners, celebrated the APPLE CORE Program across the valley. I was fortunate enough to attend these events that highlighted not only the schools who were recognized as winners, but also individual students across the cities who either won a Kindle Fire or a collection of books for their own personal libraries.

In the 12 years that the APPLE CORE Program has been existence in Henderson, the students in 24 schools have read a total of 4,320,496 hours or 259,229,760 minutes. The Atkins Company sponsored the monetary prizes. The following school results were celebrated:

1st place         (David) Cox ES                    65.5 hours per student                    $7,000

2nd place        Smalley ES                           64.7 hours per student                    $1,000

3rd place         Sewell ES                             59.4 hours per student                    $500

In the four years that the APPLE CORE Program has been existence in Las Vegas, the students in 69 schools have read a total of 1,038,706 hours or 62,322,360 minutes. The City of Las Vegas sponsored the monetary prizes. The following school results were celebrated:

1st place         May ES                                  95    hours per student                    $7,000

2nd place        Piggott ES                             66.7 hours per student                    $1,000

3rd place         Detwiler ES                           50.7 hours per student                    $500

In the four years that the APPLE CORE Program has been existence in North Las Vegas, the students in 21 schools have read a total of 471,011 hours or 28,260,660 minutes. The City of North Las Vegas sponsored the monetary prizes. The following school results were celebrated:

1st place         Wilhelm ES                           64.6 hours per student                    $3,000

2nd place        Triggs ES                               31.8 hours per student                    $1,000

3rd place         Craig ES                                22.8 hours per student                    $500

Congratulations to our schools who were recognized for their reading efforts and to all our students who participated. A special thank you goes out to Robert Jones and Alison Grant from K-12 Library Services and to all the principals, teachers and librarians who supported this program.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Working together for more funding

We are one of the worst-funded district in the nation, yet we continue to show success. Let's work together to get more funding for our teachers, students and schools.

Click here to view the video I made for my Pat, Personally this week.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The Legacy of CCSD

Over the next few weeks, I will be writing about topics that I personally feel are part of the legacy of CCSD. Reflecting upon the last five years, these are my personal favorites and in no way reflect any priority in CCSD. These programs either make me smile or cry happy tears, but all have made a significant impact on the students of CCSD.

I was sitting in a local restaurant at lunch last week, trying to get a meal in between three school visits and three afternoon meetings. As I was talking with the individuals sitting at the table, the waiter brought over a note from another patron and stated, “I was asked to give you this.” As I sat and read the note over and over, tears were rolling down my face. 

Click here to view the note.

Mission High School was a risk for the trustees and myself.  The questions were simple, “Could we create the nation’s first non-charter, non-private high school to serve students who were willing to take on their addictions? Could we create an environment where students were ‘willing’ to participate in their personal recovery?”

The overwhelming answer was YES!  It took many meetings and many community partners to step up to assist with this amazing program. It took many individuals who were willing to give time, money and support to CCSD, as well as the principal and her team.

Mission High School is not a cure for addiction; there is no cure. It is a place where some of our most challenged students go to complete high school and to make the daily goal of “one day at a time.” We are so proud of the team that put this together, including Jeff Horn, a school associate superintendent, who was the CCSD champion.

This program didn’t have to be created by CCSD. We didn’t have to take the risk on a program that was new to the community. What we DID have to do is ensure the academic, social and behavioral success of “every student in every classroom, without exceptions, without excuses.”  

This is an example of CCSD leading the nation! This is an example of the legacy of CCSD for the past five years!

Monday, April 2, 2018

School safety

It has been two weeks since many high school students around the nation and here in Clark County conducted walkouts to express their concern over safety in our schools.

To our students, parents, staff and community, I want you to know that the Board of School Trustees and I care deeply about the safety of our children.

To address this important topic of discussion, I recently had the opportunity to participate in a panel discussion along with representatives from law enforcement, district staff as well as a legislator and one of our high school principals.

The two main themes that were brought up by all the participants were that resources are available and communication is the key.

Here in the Clark County School District (CCSD), we want to continue to spread the word to let students to know that there is always an adult on campus that they can talk to, whether it is an administrator, counselor, social worker or school psychologist. We want students to know these people are available to provide assistance and are also a resource if they need to report something.

I want our school communities to know that we appreciate that you act as our eyes and ears in our schools and throughout our community. That is where the importance of communications becomes a factor as safety is a team effort, and parents and students are often our best source for reporting suspicious instances or inappropriate behavior.

While the topic of school safety is at the forefront of our minds, we are not alone in working to address this topic. As State Senator Joyce Woodhouse indicated during the discussion, school safety is definitely on the minds of our representatives in the Nevada Legislature.

Woodhouse pointed out that during the last legislative session, additional funds were allocated to hire more social workers to serve as valuable resources in our schools. She also indicated that we can expect additional efforts during the next legislative session on how to make schools safer and how to get additional resources into our schools, whether they are additional psychologists, social workers, law enforcement officers, teachers or a combination of those. Also, Gov. Sandoval has indicated that he wants this topic to be a priority with a two-pronged approach that includes physical ways to make schools safer and through additional resources as I already mentioned.

Another vital component of school safety comes from the law enforcement agencies in Clark County. CCSD has its own police department of fully certified law enforcement officers. And while we have officers assigned to schools and other officers who are constantly on patrol around our schools, our officers also work with the other law enforcement agencies throughout the county to provide coverage and response support for our schools, students and staff.

As Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Assistant Sheriff Brett Zimmerman pointed out during the discussion, our law enforcement officials frequently conduct inter-agency training, so when there is a response to an incident, it is a coordinated effort among multiple agencies that have trained together and this provides for a better communication process.

The topic of school safety will be ongoing. To learn more about school safety, please take some time from your busy schedule to watch the special edition of Inside Education that originally aired on Vegas PBS on March 22. The program can be found by clicking on the Inside Education link.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Hope for our students' futures

On Friday, March 16, I had the opportunity to visit the East Career and Technical Academy’s (ECTA) Class of 2018 Senior Project Celebration Day. This day is the culmination of each senior’s course of study in their major.

As I walked into the front office area, I was greeted by Principal Delgado and she introduced me to an ambassador from the junior class. As I began to walk through the hallways at ECTA, I could feel the excitement, not only with the seniors as they explained their capstone projects, but with the underclassmen who were so proud of their friends and talking about what they wanted to do in the coming years.

As I walked through the Education Hallway, I felt hope – hope for these students to complete their undergraduate degrees in education and become teachers for CCSD; hope for the future students who would follow their path; and hope for the students that these amazing young people will teach in the future.

I then headed out to the construction area and was impressed by the quality of the projects. I saw doghouses, murphy beds, hammocks, and even a roller coaster that was built by education majors. I saw the joy and excitement in the faces of these students as they proudly explained their project.

After a quick trip through the automotive section, where some automotive students joined with culinary students to create unique grills and other various projects, I headed to culinary. As I walked through the banquet hall, filled with amazing smells, I realized that all of the Titans at ECTA received an opportunity that many in our county, state and nation would never even be able to see, much less participate in one of our programs.

These students will walk out the door with their Career and Technical Education Certifications in their field of study. These students can go on to college to pursue their dreams or go right to work in their specialty area. Congratulations Titans, and to all of our other CTE programs who use Problem Based Learning to present a capstone project. You are our future, and it is brighter than the lights of Las Vegas!

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Fun times during Nevada Reading Week

Nevada Reading Week is one of my favorite weeks of the year.  It is the chance for me to head out into our schools to spend some time reading to our students. 

I am sure that it is not nearly as much fun for the classroom teachers to have the superintendent come into their classroom to read to their students.  I can always tell when they have been “prepared” for my visit when they are able to pronounce my name when I am introduced.  Let’s face it, if I knew that the superintendent was coming into my classroom to read, there would have been preparation as well.

The Each One Read One book selected by the committee this year was “The Artist and Me,” written by Shane Peacock and illustrated by Sophie Casson.  This beautifully written and illustrated story is one of a bully whose victim would become one of the world’s most recognizable artists, Vincent Van Gogh. 

This year, I read to students in grades kindergarten through fifth grade at Oran K. Gragson Elementary School, Sunrise Acres Elementary School, Steve. Schorr Elementary School, Paradise Elementary School, Louis Wiener Jr. Elementary School, and Beverly S. Mathis Elementary School.

I always bring my favorite books and then choose based upon the grade level.  I usually never know what grade or class I am reading to before I walk in the door, and I love that!  There are a few books that I always take with me, but my favorite to read is “Jujo, the Youngest Tribesman” by Mark Ludy. 

While reading to students is truly a fulfilling experience for me, the humor often happens during the question and answer session following the book.  In one classroom, I commented to the teacher that her class was so well behaved.  One of her students piped up, “She was hoping you would say that!” When in another classroom, I asked the kids what I did in my job. A student replied, “You’re the Super Nintendo and you are the boss of all the schools.” 

As I am finishing up my time as Super Nintendo, I will really miss all the opportunities to read to students!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Please continue to report any school safety concern

Dear Colleagues,

I know many of us are feeling distressed after last week's tragedy in Florida. I hope our CCSD family supports each other at this time. Below is a ParentLink message sent to all CCSD parents and guardians, and is being provided to you as an update on our school safety efforts.

The Board of School Trustees and I care deeply about your safety. We appreciate that you act as our eyes and ears in our schools and throughout our community. Please continue to report any school safety concerns you have to CCSD Police or your administrator.

Parentlink message sent last week:

This is Capt. Ken Young from the Clark County School District Police Department.

The safety of our students is our top priority. As a result of recent events in Florida, we want to make you aware of some of the measures we have in place to ensure school safety.

First, safety is a team effort, and parents and students are often our best source for reporting suspicious instances or inappropriate behavior.

Anyone who has information to share can contact their school administration and/or local law enforcement agency. You can also report information through the Safe Voice app that you can install on your phone, by visiting, or by calling 833-216-SAFE.

If an incident does occur, our Clark County School District Police officers and school staff members constantly work to keep students safe.

Each school has a crisis response plan that addresses all types of emergencies. Each school has monthly drills to train staff and students for all types of hazards and emergencies.

We encourage all teachers to lock the doors to their classroom at all times, and for schools to have one point of entry to monitor who is on campus. We’re also working to implement new safety features, such as a system that will allow staff members to initiate hard lockdowns for the entire school from their classroom.

Our staff members are required to view training videos annually, and CCSD Police works with other law enforcement and community partners to train for a variety of scenarios.

Each comprehensive high school in the valley has at least one officer assigned to the school. We also have officers who are assigned patrol duties in and around our other schools, and we contract for law enforcement services for our rural schools.

If your child has any safety concerns, please encourage them to reach out to an adult at school or report through the Save Voice app, which does take anonymous tips.

With your assistance, we can work together to keep students safe while providing them with a quality education..

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Our civic future

On Feb. 3, at the University of Nevada, Reno, I had the privilege of judging the Nevada state competition of “We the People.” During this competition, teams of seniors prepare for simulated congressional hearing on questions related to the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights and all Amendments to the Constitution. The overall purpose is to engage students in both the history of our country as well as its future.

Teams from Canyon Springs High School, Clark High School, West Career and Technical Academy, Southwest Career and Technical Academy, and College of Southern Nevada – East competed against Reno High School, Incline Village High School and Bishop Manogue High School from Northern Nevada. Reno High School won the state competition and will advance to the national competition in Washington, D.C. The Canyon Springs High school team, under the coaching of Dr. Lou Grillo, came in third place.

Each year, almost 100 judges, lawyers, legislators and community individuals volunteer to judge on a Saturday in December for the district level competition, and again in February for the state level competition. While the competition is tough and students are focused on winning, the biggest winner is our state. Each year, this program reaches hundreds of students from Nevada who not only study the Constitution and Amendments, but also thousands of court cases and rulings. These students learn, firsthand, the ideals our country was founded on and how our democratic system works and thrives.

I have watched students take a six-month journey through our country’s history and be able to not only formulate a convincing argument, but also defend their viewpoints during a rigorous cross examination period. I have seen students apply court rulings and interpretations of ideals based on the We the People program. I have seen students who have changed career paths based on participation. I have seen students bring alive documents that contain the foundation and basis of our entire way of life, and that most adults have never read or choose to ignore. I have seen students grow from a state of apathy to a state of activism. I have seen students become actively engaged adults through this program.

While politics in the state of Nevada and our country may seem in turmoil at times, I can assure you that I have seen the future. The future of our democratic system is in good hands if we trust our We the People students to be the next leaders!

Monday, January 8, 2018

Next step of reorganization will increase transparency

CCSD is continuing to provide better customer service and transparency to our schools as part of the Clark County Schools Achieve Reorganization Effort. One major step we recommend comes as a result of collaboration with a group led by the State Superintendent of Public Instruction to create a proposal for the development of service level agreements (SLAs) that will help schools understand the cost and scope of central services they receive and give them more autonomy over how resources are spent at their schools.

On Jan. 11, 2018, an item is included on the agenda of the Regular Meeting of the Board of Trustees that recommends the transfer of responsibilities as required by Assembly Bill 469, Section 16, through service level agreements.

A vote in favor of this item would accomplish several objectives required by AB 469 and also could advance the board’s desire to increase customer service and transparency:

  • This item will transfer the authority to schools for carrying out the responsibilities of some direct services to schools, including: Assessment, Athletics, Student Activities, Fine Arts, Orchestra, Summer School, Staff Development Services, Education Services Division, Attendance Enforcement, Safe & Drug Free Schools, Legislatively Mandated Defibrillator and EpiPen Services, Credit Recovery, Graduation Services, Alternative Student Programs, Gifted and Talented Education, Moapa Valley Farm, English Language Learner School Services, English Language Learner Testing, Prime 6 field trips,  Transportation, Vehicle Maintenance, Landscaping, Utilities, Technology Support, School Site Administration - Human Resources Allocation, Trash Disposal, Human Resources Extended Day Staffing, Police Services, Partnership Office Field Trips, and University of Family Learning Services and Staff.
  • This item would also provide funding for these direct services to schools into school strategic budgets, and schools will continue to purchase the services listed above from district Central Services using that allocation for the 2018-19 school year.
  • Finally, approval of this item would also allow the Clark County School District to be in compliance with Assembly Bill 469, Section 18, which requires that 85 percent of the district’s unrestricted funds be allocated to schools.

Here's how the SLA process will work:

  • SLAs will be drafted between January and June 2018, to memorialize the actual services being provided to schools and the cost of those services. Comprehensive SLAs will be developed for the services provided to ensure that both schools and central services meet required standards.
  • All funds for direct services to schools that are currently provided by central services will be placed into the strategic budgets of each school precinct.
  • All direct services to schools will continue to be provided by Central Services in the 2018-19 school year in order to provide stability in the first full year of implementation of SLAs and these transfers of responsibility. This will also give Central Services the opportunity to continue to focus on our level of service and demonstrate to schools that we provide the most reliable, highest-quality direct services to schools.
  • A feedback mechanism will be established as part of the SLA process to ensure schools receive excellent customer service in the direct services that central provides to schools. Feedback will be obtained during the 2018-19 school year to include: measures of performance, cost of services to individual schools, and the school’s overall satisfaction with the service. The information provided in SLAs and the process for gathering feedback from school communities will inform discussions regarding services that principals may opt to obtain from alternate providers in future years, pending Board approval, as provided in AB 469. School plans that may lead to requests for proposals will be brought back to the board for consideration pursuant to Nevada Revised Statute 332.

The Board of Trustees previously approved the transfer of two responsibilities to schools, including Ensuring a Clean, Well-Maintained Learning Environment  and School Technology Support and Compliance. The responsibilities listed in the item for the January 11 meeting are in addition to these items.

SLAs are an important step in complying with AB 469 and to advance the board’s strategic imperatives of increasing academic excellence, engagement, school support, and clarity and focus.