LAS VEGAS (KSNV) — In less than a week students will be entering our Clark County public schools for the start of a new year.
Tuesday, Crisis in the Classroom investigative reporter Tiffany Lane spoke with the district's head boss Superintendent Dr. Jesus Jara about the issues important to you.
LANE: If you could pick one or two main goals for the year, what would they be and how do you plan on approaching them?
JARA: "Obviously the teacher - the staffing, challenges that we're all facing. You know, how did we get better at doing some of that work? Our head of HR, she's getting- you know, we're very proud of that. Lucky that she's here. I think addressing the work shortage of staffing, that's one goal. As a whole, the academic learning, that's also of top priority.
LANE: Some of the longtime teachers are talking about leaving. How do you approach you know- what is your message to them, especially for those who have been with the district for several years? What is your message to them of don't leave?
JARA: "Please don't. I mean, one of the things that I am very cognizant of, the challenges that we have around the working conditions and their pay. Look we had to do something to stop the bleeding, trying to get new teachers. And I know we have to address our veteran teachers. I know that and so does CCEA. But it's how do we do that? And we have to get the funding. So, the only way that I could say thank you was with a $5,000 bonus. I know it's not enough. I know it doesn't go into the base, but it was what we had with the resources that we had."
Jara continued to say: "But I understand their concern. And we have to do something in the legislative session to address the salary if we're going to really say we care about K-12 education in the state of Nevada."
LANE: One of the big topics obviously, safety in our schools. Are you concerned with what we're seeing and are you truly hopeful that things will turn around? Do you see it changing immediately?
JARA: "That's a great question. You know, this morning, I was exercising. I see the news. And you know the Fremont Street committee making recommendations on curfew. This is the world we're living in, right. And that's spilling into our campuses. The message, what I would tell you and I said this, the other day, the number one, you know, I would say line of defense is our parents. Get involved," he said. "Ask your kids what's going on in school. Let us know. So, then we can address it."
LANE: One thing you've been very clear on over the past few months is strictly enforcing that student code of conduct. And I know they're, I feel like this is somewhere where the community is very separated. Some are saying the expulsions and it sometimes they say it's disproportionate when it comes to certain groups. Others are saying you know, it's not strict enough and they reference restorative justice. For you talk about just, you know, really being strict on enforcing that policy, but how do you go about balancing out those different areas?
JARA: "Yeah, and I've been. And thank you for noticing that because you're right. It's been very - I've been very clear. Maybe we lost the messaging on, you know, what restorative practice is. Look, one thing that we do know was zero violence, zero tolerance, throwing kids out the door, that's not working. Because then they're going to be on the street. Right? That doesn't work. So, it's holding them accountable. That's a discipline code of conduct, but then providing the support so that it doesn't happen again."
LANE: Parents are hopeful going into the school year. I've spoken with a lot of them. They're hopeful but it has been a very challenging year. There's disagreements on the board. There was a situation that happened firing, bringing you back. And I think families want stability because when they watch that happening, they think well all the focus is on that. And we have proficiency issues. We have violence. We have staffing shortages. And I know that your contract I believe is coming up. But what do you see for your future with the district? Do you hope to stay?
JARA: "I wouldn't have come back if i didn't want stability for this community. I have such level of positivism for the kids, our kids. This team has done phenomenal work the teachers everything we've gone through together to open school through COVID. You grow right? The adult disagreements are just that, that played out in the community that shouldn't of. I can't address that. I'm just saying I don't focus on that. I focus on the proficiency. I focus on the student achievement. I focus on the safety. I focus on all that and the focus on the work that this team has done. Am I committed to this community? 100%" he continued to say "I'm hoping to be here as long as the board and this community wants me. I worry about doing the job for the kids. I want to be the superintendent on Monday morning that our kids needed 10 years ago.
What are the issues important to you going into the school year? Do you have questions you'd like us to get answers for from the district?
Reach out to the Crisis in the Classroom tip line: email@example.com or call 702-805-0489.