Friday, February 27, 2015
Bracken Elementary School Principal Katie Decker to meet with U.S. Secretary of Education

Walter Bracken STEAM Academy Principal Katie Decker (pictured) has been invited to meet with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and other U.S. Department of Education officials for two days of learning and advising in Washington, D.C. on March 2-3. The conference, which is part of the new Principals at ED (Education Department) program, is designed to bring groups of highly innovative and successful principals from across the country to the Department of Education to learn more about federal programs and to share their experiences as school leaders. Decker is one of only 15 principals invited to this event.

Category: employees

Tuesday, February 24, 2015
Education bills are a hot topic in Carson City

The 78th Nevada Legislative session is only three weeks in, but it has already produced a flurry of activity in Carson City. Many of the bills that are hot topics among lawmakers are education related and they have already generated partisan politics and heated debate. One of the most prominent proposals is Senate Bill (SB) 119.

If passed in its present form, SB 119 would allow a rollover of the bond and allow CCSD to build more schools. This bill has been heard on the committee floor and a vote is expected any day now. It’s no secret that CCSD schools are overcrowded but to put it in perspective, if we could build 32 new elementary schools today, they would all be filled.

Assembly Bill (AB) 55 is a bill that would create a temporary permit for teachers that will allow them up to six months to take exams required for licensure in Nevada. This bill was heard by the Assembly Education Committee and will now move forward to a vote in the near future.

Other bills that relate directly to teachers include AB 27 and AB 30. These bills were proposed by the Nevada Department of Education. If passed in their current form, they would allow a person who is not a citizen or lawful resident of the United States, but who is permitted to work in the US, to teach if the school district has a shortage in that teacher’s subject area. Currently, CCSD has more than 600 teaching vacancies, while Washoe County has 100 teaching vacancies. The thought is that if approved, this legislation would enable districts to hire teachers that would help to address the shortage, especially in the state’s two largest districts.

The Assembly on Government Affairs is pushing SB 133, which proposes to fund out-of-pocket classroom expenses of up to $100 per teacher. This bill has received widespread support but will be amended to ensure efficient distribution of the funds.

The legislative session will continue through early June and there are a number of other education-related topics that will be discussed and voted on in the months ahead. Some of the anticipated legislation pertains to the possible revision of the Nevada Plan Funding Formula; expansion of full-day kindergarten; an expansion of the ZOOM School program; and the possible creation of an Education Stabilization Fund.

These are just a handful of the bills that will be heard in the coming weeks. Employees who want to express their views on any of the legislative topics can do so by writing or emailing their representatives to let them know how they want them to prioritize education.

To do so, send an email or hard copy mail.  Go to this link, or here, to get contact information for legislators. Email addresses, office addresses, phone numbers are listed on this website. In your message, it is important to include your name and address and indicate if you are a constituent of the specific legislator you are messaging. Be brief and respectful even if you have a difference of opinion.

CCSD staff or members of the public who would like to follow the developments of the legislative session have resources that are available through the CCSD website. At ccsd.net, there is a link to sign up for legislative updates. Information pertaining to the legislative priorities for CCSD and past legislative updates is available through the Community and Government Affairs portion of the site by clicking here.

Category: employees

Tuesday, February 24, 2015
Superintendent's Mailbag - The Hero Finder Fee program

Each week, the Clark County School District (CCSD) responds to some of the emails it receives from parents and district employees. This week, the district addresses the topic of paying cash rewards for teacher recruitment.

An employee asked, “I heard from another teacher that I can get a cash reward for recruiting other teachers to come to work for CCSD. How does this work?”

Employees can receive a reward of $110 for each teacher recruited from out of state for the 2015-16 school year. The “Hero Finder Fee” program requires that the recruitment occurred prior to the person initiating an application with CCSD, and provided the teacher starts employment at the beginning of the school year (some exclusions apply). Employees who “Find a Hero” will be paid in Oct. 2015. Details about the program were provided to employees via email on Jan. 5, which is when the finder fee program began.

For more information on “Calling All Heroes,” visit teach.vegas.

Category: employees

Tuesday, February 24, 2015
Going behind the scenes of the department that keeps school zones in order

Keeping tabs on one student is already a challenge, but imagine keeping tabs on 319,700 students! Rick Baldwin and the Demographics, Zoning and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) department has the daunting task to do so. Baldwin serves as the director of the department and their work impacts the entire Clark County School District.

From open enrollment and Magnet schools to zoning and overcrowding, the Demographics, Zoning and GIS department tackles various challenges and runs various reports for the district. The GIS program used to produce these reports runs data obtained from Infinite Campus to map each student. From there, it tracks the fluctuations in enrollment numbers to provide an accurate picture of which zone sees the most transfers or which zone holds the most students.

The Demographics, Zoning and GIS department covers a wide array of professions and is composed of data analysts, economists, statisticians and building utilization specialists.

“The most important thing that we do for the schools is that we run projections – how many students each school will get each year. From there, schools are able to base their budgets on the next year,” said Baldwin.

Tracking growth patterns in specific areas of the Las Vegas valley aids the district in appropriating funds to ease overcrowding. The department is able to identify where schools are needed and what sites would be the best suited for new schools. By tracking monthly enrollments, the department is able to determine how many portables each school will receive as well. The Demographics, Zoning and GIS department also keeps its eyes on real estate developments coming up in the valley.

“We track how many total homes that project is going to yield and how many students each of those homes may yield,” said Baldwin. “For every 100 units, that yields a projection of approximately 20 elementary students.”

The enrollment projections report for next year is the next immense task Baldwin and his department looks forward to completing. It will include projections for all 357 schools in the district, broken down grade by grade.

Category: employees

Tuesday, February 17, 2015
CCSD wins AP District of the Year

The hard work of every Advanced Placement (AP) teacher paid off as Clark County School District (CCSD) won the AP District of the Year award by the College Board. A boisterous Ed W. Clark High School crowd welcomed the award on Feb. 11.

The district won the award based on three factors:

  • Simultaneously and continuously increasing the number of students taking AP classes while improving outcomes on AP Exams, with 55 percent of all AP students scoring a 3 or higher in 2014;
  • Increased student participation in AP by 9 percent annually and the percentage of students scoring a 3 or higher on at least one AP Exam by 3 percent annually;
  • Increased the percentage of traditionally underserved minority AP students earning a 3 or higher on at least one AP Exam by 9 percent annually – an increase of 424 students since 2012.

"I'm extremely proud of this important distinction," said CCSD Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky. "This award reinforces that our district is headed in the right direction and aligns with our Pledge of Achievement goals to close achievement gaps, increase graduation rates and have students college and career ready by increasing the number of students taking AP courses.”

CCSD was one of a record 547 school districts across the US and Canada that placed in the 2015 AP District Honor Roll. From this list, three districts are chosen based on population size – small, medium and large – and an analysis of three academic years of AP data.

Students who enroll in AP courses have the opportunity to receive college credit provided they score 3 or higher on two AP exams. Receiving college credit while still in high school saves students an average of $1,779 at a public four-year college and over $6,000 at a private college.

“When coupled with their hard work, the AP Program helps students build confidence, learn to craft effective arguments, earn credit for college and graduate from college on time,” said Trevor Packer, senior vice president of AP and Instruction at the College Board. “The College Board applauds the district’s leadership to ensure that a more diverse population of students is ready for the sort of rigor that will prepare them for success in college.”

All three winning districts will be honored in Austin, Texas during the 2015 AP Annual Conference in July.

Category: employees

Tuesday, February 17, 2015
Superintendent's Mailbag - The requirements for immunizations

Each week, the Clark County School District (CCSD) responds to some of the emails it receives from parents and district employees. This week, the district addresses the topic of immunizations.

A parent asked, “I am concerned about the number of stories I have seen lately about measles and whooping cough and the number of unvaccinated children in the school district. My child has an immune deficiency and cannot build immunity to these things like other children can. What are the requirements for immunizations and why are children who have not been vaccinated allowed in schools?”

State law requires all students to be immunized to enroll in school. However, if a child is exempt for medical or religious reasons, they can attend school with the proper documentation. Exempt students are the first students excluded from attending when a communicable disease is active in their school.The school district always works with the Southern Nevada Health District to determine the appropriate steps to take in the event of an active communicable disease in a school. It is important that parents vaccinate children according to the law and discuss situations with their healthcare provider which would not allow a child to receive appropriate vaccinations and/or exemptions.

Category: employees

Tuesday, February 17, 2015
Green Valley High School's Study Skills class: not your father's study hall

The Study Skills class at Green Valley High School (GVHS) isn’t known for being quiet. In fact, teacher Christa Fialkiewicz describes the environment as “organized chaos,” but that is no accident. The class is meant to be a dynamic place for students to improve their proficiency in the core subjects of mathematics, science and English while also completing their homework assignments.

Fialkiewicz, an 18-year GVHS veteran and a native of suburban Chicago, wears several hats at her school. Besides her regular classroom duties, she serves as English Department chair and International Baccalaureate coordinator. Perhaps her greatest satisfaction comes from overseeing the school’s four-year-old Study Skills program. Make no mistake; this is not the stereotypical study hall. Instead, this is a structured, focused approach that offers individualized attention and support to participating students.

Five teachers (three English, one mathematics and one science) lead the five Study Skills classes with help from student aides, most of whom are AP or honors students. The number of participants has grown since it began four years ago, with about 110 students – mostly freshmen and sophomores – now attending the classes.

Fialkiewicz said the students are selected by counselors, administrators and/or teachers due to their need for extra help in completing their assignments or being proficient. She said, “The idea is to get students back on track sooner, rather than later.”

Besides their academic challenges, the selected students struggle in other areas too. Fialkiewicz said, “Many of them have social struggles, such as being anxious or nervous at school, or being introverted, while others are overly aggressive. These kinds of traits also impede their ability to complete their assignments and succeed academically.”

Another key factor is a student’s home life. “Many students in our Study Skills classes are not, for whatever reason, getting a lot of help at home. Perhaps their parents are not staying on top of grades or holding them accountable for their school work.” In this sense, the Study Skills teachers take on the role of pseudo- or part-time parents for many of their students.

One student praised the empathy of his Study Skills teacher, saying, “”She acts like a teacher when she needs to be, and acts like a friend when she needs to be.” Fialkiewicz said, “Our role has to be somewhat unconditional love. We have to show our students that we will be there to help them through their difficulties and help them graduate.”

The program has been paying off, in the fact that 90 percent of freshmen and sophomores who were part of the Study Skills program in its first year were back on track by their junior year. Fialkiewicz talks about some students who have “graduated” from Study Skills and then entered honors classes. “This is what I’m most proud of,” she said. “By doing all we can to prevent them from falling behind, we are laying the groundwork for their success as they continue their high school education and ultimately graduate with their classmates. Our success stories demonstrate that our hard work is benefiting our students.”

Category: employees

Tuesday, February 17, 2015
CCSD employees can earn a reward for recruiting new teachers

Clark County School District (CCSD) employees can put some cash in their pockets through the district’s “Calling All Heroes” recruitment advertising campaign. Employees can receive a reward of $110 for each teacher recruited from out-of-state for the 2015-16 school year. The “Hero Finder Fee” program requires that the recruitment occur prior to the person initiating an application with CCSD,  provided the teacher starts employment at the beginning of the school year (some exclusions apply). Employees who “Find a Hero” will be paid in Oct. 2015. Details about the program were provided to employees via email on Jan. 5, which is when the finder fee program began.

Recruitment & Development Executive Director Meg Nigro said the program is low-cost relative to the potential benefit. If 500 additional teacher vacancies were filled by employees’ referral/effort, it would cost the district no more than approximately $58,000. The program also garners a 100 percent return on investment because no money is allocated unless the teacher is hired to fill a vacancy and actually begins work.

The district also has hired two additional “boots on the ground” recruiters who report directly to Human Resources. Nigro said, “These recruiters will be traveling three weeks out of each month. We know how important it is to build relationships with people and to put a face to a district as large as ours. “

Nigro said the district has a critical need for new teachers. Projections indicate CCSD will be short 2,600 teachers for the 2015-16 school year due to factors including smaller class sizes and full-day kindergarten. Nigro said a majority of the vacancies are in elementary schools, mostly because of efforts to significantly reduce class sizes, especially in kindergarten. There are also the traditional openings in hard-to-fill areas like special education, science, and mathematics.

The finder fee program is just one part of the “Calling All Heroes” campaign, which was launched in January. It also includes radio and print advertising, including a full-page ad in the Southwest Airlines magazine and a video produced by Mojave High School that is being used in webinars and online job postings.

Nigro said there are plenty of reasons for teachers to join CCSD. “We have no state income tax and a dollar goes farther here, especially when compared to states such as California and New York.” CCSD is also touting its benefits package for teachers, especially its retirement program as well as the employee onboarding and development for new teachers.

Nigro said she is very optimistic that the finder’s fee program and  “Calling All Heroes” campaign will be successful. “We have to be optimistic. We cannot stop or feel comfortable or secure until we succeed, because it’s all about students, and we need a qualified teacher in every classroom.” With all employees on board the campaign, the district can reach its goal of 2,600 teachers in no time. For more information on “Calling All Heroes,” visit teach.vegas.

Category: employees