New CCSD superintendent named following contentious meeting

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Tensions ran high as Clark County School District leaders hired a new superintendent. Trustees unexpectedly appointed external candidate, Dr. Jesus Jara.

READ: Dr. Jesus Jara’s resume

He is the deputy superintendent of Orange County public schools in Florida.

Trustees were split on hiring someone within the district and wanting change by appointing an outsider. An attempt to push back the vote failed and now the 5th largest school district in the nation has a new leader.

By a narrow margin, CCSD trustees voted to appoint Jara to replace retiring superintendent Pat Skorkowsky. But it wasn’t before a heated debate.

At the meeting, there was overwhelming support for Dr. Mike Barton, chief academic officer at the school district. However a vote to hire him failed, leading to hours of intense discussions between trustees and contentious moments.

The three trustees rooting for Dr. Barton argued he knows the school district inside-out and has proven to be successful in his current position. Meanwhile, the remaining four said the culture and climate at the school district needed to change and only an outsider could make a difference.

“This is not a popularity contest. This is a very serious decision,” said Trustee Carolyn Edwards, CCSD. 

Trustee young attempted to delay the vote to research the external candidates but her request was met with strong opposition from some of her colleagues.

“I’m wondering what your contingency plan were if your candidate that you pushed forward didn’t win? Did you not have a back up plan? Did you not — Trustee Young? Trustee Lola Brooks asked.

Trustee Young: “You talking to me? Trustee Brooks?

Trustee Brookes: “I’m talking to anybody who is not willing to actually vote for any candidates.” 

There wasn’t much discussion about Jara before trustees voted him in. Their decision got little to no reaction from the crowd.

CCSD will now negotiate a contract with Jara. It’s unclear when he’ll start but board members hope he and Skorkowsky will overlap a little. Skorkowsky’s last day is June 30.

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