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Fed up with school board drama, CCSD teacher's union supports changing how board members are chosen

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Posted at 4:22 PM, Dec 06, 2021

LAS VEGAS — After seeing the drama over the firing and reinstatement of Clark County School District Superintendent Jesus Jara, the Clark County Education Association wants to see a different way of selecting CCSD board members.

“It’s been dysfunctional — not just for the last several weeks, but for the last several years," said John Vellardita, executive director of the union representing Clark County's teachers.

After the back-and-forth drama over Jara, Vellardita says the teacher’s union wants to see a change in how the board is chosen. They're advocating for a hybrid model where some of the trustees are elected and some are appointed.

“Where the community can still elect people, but at the same time there would be an appointment process," he explained. "We would strive for people with good qualifications where they’re needed, particularly around finances."

He says this would address the dysfunction of school boards by putting the appropriate people in place.

“You have people who have been elected who have no background or no skill set or qualifications to really manage a $2.5 billion budget and the education of more than 300,000 kids,” Vellardita said.

RELATED STORY: Clark County School District Superintendent Jesus Jara to return to work

Changes would have to be made in the state Legislature, and those changes would affect every school board in Nevada. Assembly Bill 495 contains a provision where a committee of lawmakers will study the composition of county school boards throughout the state — including how they’re chosen. Currently, all school trustees in Nevada are elected.

CCSD kindergarten teacher Nicole Hess says she’s open to changing the makeup of the board, saying it’s become too self-serving.

“This history and these events with personal agendas and things happening behind closed doors that the public doesn’t know about needs to stop,” Hess said.

RELATED STORY: Moving forward with Clark County School District Superintendent Jesus Jara's return

The Las Vegas Alliance of Black School Educators is also open to a hybrid board. The group says any appointment process needs to have diverse voices from stakeholders.

“If we see a productive plan in place that ensures the community can still have a voice, our students can have a voice, our professionals have a voice,” said Kamilah Byewaters, president of LVABSE.

The legislative education committee will begin discussing this in January of next year. Any changes, if approved, could happen in 2023.