Friday, March 27, 2015
Media Planet article spotlights CCSD teacher and his wife

An article in Media Planet Education and Career News and in USA Today spotlights CCSD teacher Jason Marshall-Lang and his wife, Mary Simmons. The article focuses on the fact that people of all ages are now earning college degrees. Simmons is on track to complete her master’s degree at UNLV, focusing on Teaching English as a Second Language. Marshall-Lang teaches social science at Cowan Behavior Jr./Sr. High School. The article said, “The barriers may be more pronounced for the older college student who is juggling work, family and health issues, but they are anything but insurmountable. College is attainable at any age and stage in life.”

Category: employees

Thursday, March 26, 2015
Nominations accepted for New Educator of the Year

Nominations are being accepted for the Clark County School District New Educator of the Year award. A new educator is defined as someone who has no prior contracted experience. The award recognizes and celebrates outstanding new educators who have demonstrated excellence and dedication to students and the school community. The recipients’ pictures will be displayed in the foyer of the Edward A. Greer Education Center. New educators can self-nominate or be nominated by an administrator, colleague, parent, student or community member.

To nominate an educator, please email the nomination form to eodd@interact.ccsd.net by Monday, April 13, 5 p.m.

Nominations will be accepted for the following categories:

  • Primary (early childhood through Grade 2)
  • Intermediate (grades 3-5)
  • Junior High/Middle School (grades 6-8)
  • High School (grades 9-12)
  • Specialist (grades PK-12)
  • Special Education (grades PK-12)
  • Related Services (counselor, school nurse, school psychologist, speech/language pathologist, social worker, OT/PT)

Category: employees

Wednesday, March 25, 2015
New assistant superintendent for Facilities Dept. ready to take on new school construction

New schools are coming to the Clark County School District but there is a tremendous amount of work that has to be done behind the scenes before any construction can take place.

With the approval of the Nevada Legislature and the signature of Gov. Brian Sandoval, the ability for school districts in Nevada to issue new bonding capacity was created. This means for the first time since the 1998 bond sunset in 2008, CCSD will have new money coming in for the desperately needed new replacement schools, school additions and major school upgrades.

While the district’s enrollment leveled out during the recession, the past four years have seen an average of about 2,500 new students per year and enrollment is now about 320,000 students for the nation’s fifth-largest school district.

Although the approval of legislation has set off a flurry of activity, several departments in the district have been busy for the past year analyzing enrollment trends and providing data for district officials and state legislators that they used in order to draft and pass legislation, according to Blake Cumbers, the district’s new assistant superintendent for the facilities department.

Cumbers joined the district earlier this month and will serve as CCSD’s lead person in overseeing the construction process. Although this is his first experience working directly in a school district, he has an extensive background in construction that includes a number of casino entertainment venues in Las Vegas, Reno and Atlantic City. He most recently worked for the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation in the Phoenix metro area where he served as general manager and oversaw the development of an entire new casino to replace the existing facility.

“It’s exciting to be a part of building schools,” said Cumbers. “It’s not only exciting for me, but I think it is exciting for everybody that works for the school district and for Las Vegas as a community.”

Cumbers explained that there is not only a need for new schools to relieve the overcrowding but the district is also way behind in the upgrading of existing facilities, especially in the area of technology.

“There is going to be in excess of a $4 billion investment in education facilities over a 10-year period,” said Cumbers. “It is going to result in a huge amount of work for people in the school district and a lot of people from outside the district that are in contracting and trades. This will be a huge economic impact on Las Vegas.”

Category: employees

Tuesday, March 24, 2015
Cram Middle School's Parent University helps parents learn mathematics

Every couple of weeks, anywhere from 20 to 40 parents gather on a Saturday morning in classrooms at Brian and Teri Cram Middle School. They might enjoy a donut or cup of coffee, but they are not there to socialize. Rather, they are all students at Parent University.

Designed and implemented by Assistant Principal Derek Fialkiewicz, Parent University teaches mathematics to parents of Cram Middle School students, to help the parents help their children with math homework and tests. On alternating Saturdays, Parent University offers four different 90-minute classes: Math 6, Math 7, Pre-Algebra (eighth grade) and Algebra I (accelerated eighth grade).

Fialkiewicz and nine math teachers from his school show participating parents what’s coming up over the next two weeks so that they can be fully prepared to help their children at home. He said, “Students come home with their homework, and the parents have already seen it and can be of tremendous assistance.”

The classes, while similar to what the children are learning, are tailored to adults. Fialkiewicz said, “Many of our parents haven’t seen math in a while and may be afraid of it, so we teach background knowledge as well as the strategies they need in order to fill in the gaps.”

About 60 parents have gone through the program since it started last September. About half of them have attended a majority of the free classes. People can drop in whenever they wish; there is no requirement to attend every class.

Parent Gabriela Esparza has been attending the classes for several months. She said the math lessons have helped her and her 12-year-old son, Jorge. “I’m very involved in his education,” said Esparza. “The class helps both me and him, and now he gets A’s in math.” Another Parent University student is Tshana Randall-Frank, who hasn’t missed a class since the program started. She now spends more time with her son, Keondre, helping with his homework.

Esparza and Randall-Frank aren’t alone in praising the program. “The results and the feedback have been absolutely amazing,” said Fialkiewicz. “With each parent who attends, we are tracking the grades of their children, and we have seen an improvement in almost every student from one quarter to the next.”

The program also has produced other results that have more to do with family than with academics. Fialkiewicz said in some cases, Parent University has brought families closer together. “Some families are now having conversations at the dinner table about what is happening in math class. The parents taking these classes now understand what their students are saying, so they can have intelligent conversations about mathematics.”

Fialkiewicz, a former mathematics teacher himself, has high hopes for Parent University. “I can’t wait to see where it goes in the future,” said the 19-year Clark County School District (CCSD) veteran. He is not aware of any CCSD school offering such a program, adding, “If I had my way, this would be at every middle school.”

For the current school year, Parent University wraps up with a class on April 25. Click here for more information and the complete schedule.

Category: employees

Tuesday, March 24, 2015
Superintendent's Mailbag - Opting out of the SBAC tests

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 an inquiry about the new SBAC testing.

A parent asked, “Is there an opt-out form to refuse SBAC testing for my child? If not, why not?”

In response to your inquiry, parents are not allowed to opt their child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium – commonly referred to as SBAC – testing. The reason for this is that Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS) provide no opt-out provisions for either testing or data systems. Furthermore, Nevada Superintendent of Public Instruction Dale Erquiaga has stated that federal and state laws leave no room for him to establish such a procedure.

Category: employees

Monday, March 23, 2015
Students have the opportunity to sign up for CCSD's Open Enrollment program

While overcrowding is one of the biggest issues the Clark County School District (CCSD) is facing, CCSD has found a way that will still allow students the choice of attending their preferred school that has seats available through the Open Enrollment program.

Open Enrollment provides parents a choice as to the school in which to enroll their children. CCSD believes that when students and their parents or guardians have choices with regard to the selection of a school, students will be more engaged and, ultimately, will be more successful. While a majority of CCSD families are satisfied with their zoned schools, some families believe that a different school may be better equipped to match the needs of their students.

To make this possible, every April, CCSD posts a list of schools with available seats for the coming school year on its Web site at www.ccsd.net, under the Parent Portal link in the Open Enrollment link. Schools that are three percent or more below capacity, after a seat is held for a zoned student, will be advertised for Open Enrollment. A list of schools can also be found by accessing the Open Enrollment interest form. Only schools that have available seats are eligible to be considered for Open Enrollment; schools at or above capacity will not be eligible. Career and Technical Academies, Magnet and Select school programs do not participate in Open Enrollment.

Students zoned to their neighborhood schools will continue to have priority in enrolling, although transportation will not be provided for students selected to attend schools through Open Enrollment. Applications for Magnet/CTA/Select programs and Open Enrollment are different from each other. Parents should not apply for Open Enrollment until the notification of acceptance into a Magnet/CTA/Select school has been received. Once a student is enrolled into an Open Enrollment school, the student is committing to remain at that school for at least one school year.

Open Enrollment interest forms may be found online at ccsd.net/schools/open-enrollment. Once an application has been submitted and approved, the parents or guardians will receive an acceptance letter. Parents must register their student as soon as possible to secure enrollment, as enrollment is granted on a first-come, first-served basis.

The deadline for Open Enrollment applications is the Monday before the start of the new school year. For more information, please visit ccsd.net/schools/open-enrollment. Questions may also be sent to OpenEnrollment@interact.ccsd.net or call 702-799-6430, Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Category: employees

Wednesday, March 18, 2015
"The Leader in Me" transforms Mitchell Elementary School

How do you change the entire culture of an elementary school? One way, according to Andrew Mitchell Elementary School Principal Ben Day, is to implement “The Leader in Me,” described as a “whole-school transformation model” based on “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by world-famous author Stephen R. Covey.

"The Leader in Me" is used by about 2,000 schools throughout the world. Day, whose school serves students in kindergarten through second-grade, said the goal is to help children incorporate the seven habits into their academic and personal lives. “We want these habits to become a part of who the students are. Our children learn to lead their own lives, be leaders of their own selves and become leaders in their communities.”

For those not familiar with Covey’s seven habits, they are as follows:

  1. Be Proactive
  2. Begin with the End in Mind
  3. Put First Things First
  4. Think Win-Win
  5. Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood
  6. Synergize
  7. Sharpen the Saw (i.e., balance and renew your resources, energy and health)


To learn more about the seven habits, click here.

Mitchell Elementary School, located in Boulder City, started the program four years ago and received the prestigious recognition as a “Lighthouse School” due to its results and the impact it is having on staff, students, parents and the greater community. Day said the Lighthouse designation is given to only about 5 percent of "The Leader in Me" schools.

Day emphasized "The Leader in Me" is not an “extra” at Mitchell. He said it permeates the entire campus and even extends beyond the classroom into the homes of the school’s 410 students. “Our students understand the seven habits and so do the parents.”

Day said the transformation into the Covey paradigm did not happen overnight. “We took it a little bit further each year. Our main focus in the first year was to change our school’s mission statement and start teaching the terminology of the seven habits.”

Each student at Mitchell has their own leadership notebook which contains their own individual goals and progress in reaching those goals. Day said the school also has “data walls” that show school-wide and grade-level goals and progress.

Day, a Las Vegas native who graduated from Valley High School, said the cultural change at Mitchell has been dramatic. “Students are taking personal responsibility and setting individual goals. They are being proactive, prioritizing their schedules and learning to work with others.” Additionally, student disciplinary issues have declined dramatically in the last couple of years.

Day added that despite the achievements and accolades, "The Leader in Me" is a work in progress. “This is a very long-term project. Everything we do is focused on the success of our students. When we talk about the seven habits, it’s not just about school. It’s about home and wherever you go.”

Category: employees

Wednesday, March 18, 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

Tuesday, March 17, 2015
Magnet school transportation service revamped to suit program expansion

Changes in transportation services for Magnet school programs are coming in the 2015-16 school year. The lure of focused learning has thousands of students vying for an available spot.

The changes will allow the Clark County School District (CCSD) to provide transportation for students even as Magnet program offerings expand. CCSD is adding an additional 2,740 seats across seven schools: McCaw STEAM Academy, Clarence Piggott Elementary School, Kenny C. Guinn Middle School STEM Academy, Walter Johnson Junior High School Academy of International Studies, Thurman White Academy of the Performing Arts, Del Sol Academy of the Performing Arts and Eldorado High School STEM Academy. Four new Magnet programs will also be added in the 2016-17 school year.

“We worked closely with the transportation department to come up with a solution that would not only allow us to continue to provide transportation to our current Magnet students, but also provide for the growing number of new Magnet students as well,” said Director of Magnet and Career and Technical Academies Gia Moore.

Additionally, thanks to great parent suggestions, CCSD was able to create a new pick-up/drop-off system for secondary students beginning in the 2015-16 school year. Parents have the choice of where they want to drop their student off within their transportation zone and will also have the option to select a high school campus within the transportation zone that is more convenient for them than the school that might be geographically closest to their residence.

“Instead of the bus having to go to multiple stops, which was a great contributor to long ride times as well, students will be able to get on the bus from their pick-up point and go directly to their Magnet school,” said Moore.

Students currently receiving Magnet transportation will continue to receive transportation for the duration of their time at their Magnet school. Students accepted into a Magnet program that a sibling currently attends will receive transportation as well. Regardless of the transportation options, students may apply to any program at any school.

In addition to new Magnet programs, CCSD is happy to announce the addition of its new Select schools option. Students can choose from one of five high schools that offer outstanding Career and Technical Education and Advanced Placement programs of study as well as many other specialized programs.

Students that live within the designated transportation zone of the school that they choose will receive transportation. The new Select schools will be Bonanza, Chaparral, Mojave, Silverado and Western High Schools. Students have until April 15 to apply for Select schools. For more information on Magnet and Select schools programs, please visit itsyourchoice.ccsd.net to see all the options CCSD has to offer.

Category: employees