Dr. Jesus F. Jara

Right now the Clark County School District is serving about 320,000 students. Each one of these kids only has one shot at school.

I feel this urgency every day serving as superintendent -- we don’t have time to waste for the kids sitting in classrooms now.

In the 2019 Legislature, one of the ways we can work together to improve teaching and learning conditions is to modernize the education funding formula, which was created in 1967.

Do you think the kids we teach today are a little different than the kids in classrooms in 1967? I think we can agree that our kids today have different needs.

I always say that it is OK that some kids cost more to successfully educate -- that’s why we are working together this legislative session to establish “weights” for some students, such as English Language Learners and special education students.

Here’s why we need to invest in education:

  • We must invest in our staff and students by putting more adults on campus as well as establishing recurring incentives for all educators in Title I schools, which are our most hard-to-fill positions.
  • We must provide professional development for teachers and administrators, along with research-based instructional materials aligned to academic standards. This would allow us to provide high-quality, standards-based instruction in every classroom.
  • We must ensure a safe working and learning environment, starting with Comprehensive School Safety Evaluations and facility upgrades to improve safety measures.

These legislative priorities outlined by our Board of School Trustees align with our draft strategic plan, Focus 2024, which we have been discussing with the community and Trustees will review in a public meeting on February 28.

All of the work we do must align with the goals and targets in this plan. Here’s where the Board of School Trustees has asked us to be in five years:

  • No 1- or 2-Star schools
  • 90 percent graduation rate
    • 100 percent increase in students graduating college and career ready
  • 100 percent increase in students completing advanced coursework such as Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, dual enrollment, and career and technical education certificates.

These are ambitious goals, but together we must rise up to achieve them.

Our community needs us to improve achievement in Clark County. I like to say that if we fix Clark County, we fix the state.

CCSD accounts for 70 percent of Nevada’s kids, and therefore about 70 percent of the education issues in Nevada, and about 70 percent of the negative perception people have about education in Nevada.

We face increasing challenges, including one of the highest transiency rates in the country, more than 15,000 homeless students, and more than 100 languages spoken by our students. The rate of students on free and reduced lunch has increased from about 42 percent in 2008 to about 68 percent now.

However, if we collaborate to improve education in Clark County, we can turn many of those negatives to positives and make CCSD #1ForKids.

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