Tuesday, May 19, 2015
New department aims to increase family and community engagement

Family engagement is an important factor in the success of our students and increasing engagement can only mean great things for Clark County School District (CCSD). The district’s Family and Community Engagement Services (FACES) is here to do just that. Formed in November 2014, FACES is responsible for developing, coordinating and implementing internal and external programs that are focused on increasing family engagement and student academic achievement.

“We were created to re-organize engagement efforts,” said FACES Director Cheryl Davis. “There are divisions across the district that are focused on supporting families; however, through the Pledge of Achievement, the superintendent wanted a unified method of delivery for services focused on creating parent leaders, increasing parent groups and ensuring that families know how to advocate for their children.”

FACES’ objective is to support Pledge of Achievement initiatives with a focus to increase the the percentage of parents reporting that they have been informed of their student’s progress and feel welcomed at school. In the 2013-14 school year, 89.5 percent of parents reported having been informed of their student’s progress. FACES’ goal is to surpass or meet the 93 percent goal that the district has set by the 2018-19 school year.

The FACES team has grown to 30 members including administrators, family outreach specialists, family and school engagement liaisons, as well as project facilitators and teacher-family assistants at eight family engagement centers. Taking place at these family learning centers is one of FACES’ major initiatives – University of Family Learning (UFL). In conjunction with Title I, UFL provides families, caregivers and the community opportunities to take classes and workshops on a variety of subjects. UFL has four areas of focus: parents as teaching partners, navigating the school system, parent leadership, and family wellness and development. Expanding the program districtwide is a goal of FACES with plans on having additional locations and courses in the 2015-16 school year.

Another initiative in which FACES is involved is the drive to get more parents to register for Infinite Campus. Infinite Campus allows parents to track their student’s progress online over the school year and FACES has been working with schools to assist Infinite Campus liaisons in helping parents register.

By identifying, creating and fostering opportunities for two-way, meaningful communication with students, parents, families, staff and community partners, FACES seeks to strengthen family engagement throughout the district. FACES also works in conjunction with local and state organizations to increase legislative and community support and communication.

Category: employees

Tuesday, May 19, 2015
Superintendent's Mailbag - Title I schools

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 Title I requirements.

A parent asked, “What is Title I and what are the requirements for a school to be eligible for Title I benefits?”

Title I, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Educational Act (ESEA) is the federal education law that provides financial assistance to schools with high numbers or high percentages of children from low-income families to help ensure that all children meet challenging state academic standards.

For a CCSD school to be eligible for Title I benefits, 75 percent of its student body must be enrolled in the Free and Reduced Lunch (FRL) program, however, with the superintendent’s directions, CCSD funds all the way down to 40 percent.

The amount that is given to the schools is decided yearly based on the budget provided by the state of Nevada and based on the school’s FRL percentage. Funding is broken down into three tiers:

  • Tier I: 70 to 100 percent of student body in FRL, $380 per student
  • Tier II: 60 to 74 percent of student body in FRL, $170 per student
         •  High school funding Tier II: $150 per student
  • Tier III: 40 to 59 percent of student body in FRL, $140 per student
         •  High school funding Tier III: $125 per student

Each school is required to hold an annual meeting to disclose how it utilizes Title I funds. Parents are encouraged to attend the Title I meetings scheduled by their student’s school. For more information, please visit www.ccsd.net/departments/title-i-services.

Category: employees

Tuesday, May 19, 2015
Franchising principals across the district

As the saying goes, “If it works, stick with it,” and that is exactly what the Clark County School District is trying to accomplish with its Franchise School pilot model, which focuses on duplicating successful programs.

The Franchise School pilot program intends to loan out a successful principal who has demonstrated academic growth and achievement to supervise an additional “Franchise” school using the same or similar practices that have led to their success. That same principal will continue to supervise their original or “Flagship” school. In order to be included in the program, the Franchise school will have to be considered an underperforming school and will have to be in close proximity to the Flagship school.

The program will start in the 2015-16 school year with John Haynal of Dr. Owen C. Roundy Elementary School assisting Vegas Verdes Elementary School and Katie Decker of Walter Bracken Elementary School assisting Walter V. Long Elementary School.

“I think the Franchise School program is an opportunity for our school district to get the most out of good people,” said Principal John Haynal.

Under Haynal, Roundy Elementary went from a 2-Star school to a 4-Star school in two years. Due to his success, Mr. Haynal was recently recognized for his outstanding leadership by the Nevada Association of School Boards. Principal Haynal will be replicating his successful Roundy Elementary system at Vegas Verdes Elementary.

“Programs in Vegas Verdes and Roundy will be the same – we will employ engagement strategies and shared professional development so both teams will be working together,” said Haynal. “We see this as a victory for both schools.”

Will this program stretch principals out too thin? Not according to Haynal, as he has started testing the program and has a variety of ways to spread himself across two schools. With the schools less than two miles apart, splitting the week between Vegas Verdes and Roundy is feasible. Haynal begins his days by announcing to his staff at which school he will be posted. Traveling daily between schools for scheduled meetings and Individual Education Plans is essential. For communication, Haynal is also equipped with two-way radios that can broadcast over a larger range, lessening the impact of being assigned to multiple locations. So far, it has worked out very well.

The biggest challenge, though, is changing the climate at the Franchise school in an environment where change does not happen overnight. Franchise principals will have the opportunity to hire and mentor the assistant principals at the Flagship and Franchise schools, which should help set the tone for the energy and environment they want to bring. With new staff on the way, Haynal can’t wait to start the challenge.

Category: employees

Sunday, May 17, 2015
Trustees seek input on proposals for possible change to the start date of the school year

Clark County School District (CCSD) staff, students and parents are encouraged to provide their feedback during the next month regarding new school-year calendar proposals that the Board of Trustees will consider adopting at their May 28 meeting.

The trustees will consider several options one of which may be implemented beginning with the 2017-18 school year. The options include keeping the district on its current calendar schedule or another that would start classes two weeks earlier in mid-August.

“This is a difficult decision for the trustees and they would like to have input from all three segments of our school community before they make a choice,” said Chief Human Resources Officer Staci Vesneske. “In the past, surveys have shown that there are differing opinions between students, staff and parents. Students have indicated they would like to start the school year earlier while staff slightly favored that option, but parents have preferred the traditional calendar that is currently being used.”

Vesneske said there are pros and cons to each option as starting the school year earlier would provide students with more days of instruction prior to state testing and align with the end of the semester at the winter break. However, an earlier start date would cost the district an estimated $500,000 more in energy costs due to the additional days school would be open and air conditioned in August, which is traditionally hotter than June.

Another factor that has not yet been determined would be how an earlier start date would impact the official state count day student enrollment numbers, which ties directly to the district’s funding from the state.

“There is a lot to consider with these proposals and the trustees want to make the best decision for our schools,” said Vesneske. “In an effort to collect that input, the district has set up an email address and information will also be posted to the district’s website.”

Click here to view the options that were presented to the board. Please email comments and concerns regarding the options to schoolcalendarinput@interact.ccsd.net. Input is requested by Tuesday, May 26, in order for it to be received in time for the trustees to review prior to their vote on May 28.

Category: employees

Friday, May 15, 2015
Teachers invited to apply for a "Dream Big" grant

CCSD teachers are invited to apply for a “Dream Big Teacher Challenge” grant, sponsored by Farmers Insurance. The maximum award is $100,000. All current K-12 teachers are eligible. The deadline for entries is June 30, 2015. For more information, call (702) 799-5448 or click here.

Category: employees

Tuesday, May 12, 2015
Superintendent's Mailbag - School naming policy

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 naming district facilities and schools.

A parent asked, “I would like to see a school named after a CCSD teacher who is about to retire after a long career of inspiring children to learn. What is the process to have this done?”

The Clark County School District is currently accepting nominations to name 17 non-instructional facilities after individuals who have made an exceptional contribution in the advancement of education in our district. For information about this process that ends on June 1, click here.

However, it should be noted that of the 17 facilities to be named this year, none are schools. There will be a separate naming process for the new elementary schools to be built as part of the 2015 capital improvement program. That process is expected to begin with a similar call for nominations in the spring of 2016.

In addition, it is important to know there are restrictions pertaining to the nominations. For instance, in order for a person to be considered, they must have been separated from CCSD for at least two years and not hold a current political position.

Category: employees

Tuesday, May 12, 2015
CCSD's heroes honored during Teacher Appreciation Week

With emotions ranging from tears of joy to yelps of excitement, educators throughout the Clark County School District (CCSD) were excited to be honored with various forms of recognition during Teacher Appreciation Week (May 4-8) to thank them for the job they do in educating our students.

The week kicked off on Monday at Victoria Fertitta Middle School, where representatives from Station Casinos announced “We Love Teachers” by honoring all 18,000+ CCSD teachers with a free buffet at a Station Casino property to thank them for their hard work. They also treated a lucky teacher to a spa session and hotel stay package.

On Tuesday, students at the Southeast Career and Technical Academy (SECTA), along with district officials and trustees, showcased their cosmetology and culinary skills by pampering and preparing lunch for their teachers.

While the staff at SECTA was receiving the royal treatment, members from the Human Resources Division began visiting schools making surprise classroom presentations to honor New Educators of the Year. The surprise presentations continued on Wednesday, with a total of seven employees selected in the respective categories.

These educators will be honored by the Board of School Trustees at the May 14 regular board meeting and they were: Stephen Bock of Mojave High School; Katherine DeSimone of SECTA; Courtney Floth of Edna F. Hinman Elementary School; Jessica Flynn of C.T. Sewell Elementary School; Kevin Grimm of Will Beckley Elementary School; Timothy Thompson of James Cashman Middle School; and Dana Wynne of Jerome Mack Middle School.

A baseball theme highlighted Thursday’s event at Durango High School, as each of the CCSD’s trustees selected an outstanding teacher from their respective district to be honored at an event that featured the DHS baseball team and Cosmo, the mascot of the Las Vegas 51s.

The educators were: Corey Gaither of West Prep; Leslie Calkins-Gallant of Bill Y. Tomiyasu Elementary School; Lola Moss of Sunrise Mountain High School; Pamela Murray of Ed. C. Clark High School; Denise Nelson of Indian Springs Middle School; MiJung Park of Durango High School; and Jordan Tielemans of Liberty High School.

The following day was a great day for Bonanza High School math teacher Sarah Cuellar, as she was surprised with a brand new Chevrolet Sonic courtesy of Findlay Chevrolet and Silver State Schools Credit Union. Cuellar has worked at Bonanza High School for 18 years and has been carpooling with her colleagues for the past four years due to hardships that were incurred as a result of medical bills.

There were also a number of recognitions and celebrations at various schools during the week. Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky expressed his personal gratitude to the district’s teachers by saying, “As a former teacher who began my career here in Las Vegas, I know the long hours and sacrifices that so many of our teachers make to help educate and inspire our students, so let me say ‘thank you’ for all you do.”

Category: employees

Tuesday, May 12, 2015
Staff surveys aim to provide insight for improvement

In April, Clark County School District (CCSD) parents, students and school staff were invited to chime in on what they think of their school environment with the districtwide surveys. From the cleanliness of the campus, to the safety of the students, the surveys are meant to inform and assess policy in CCSD, and take less than 10 minutes to complete.

Available in English and Spanish through June 4, the survey is meant to help CCSD produce better school climate, culture and learning attitudes within its campuses. More participants will allow CCSD to better gauge the attitudes and opinions of its school staff. The surveys are available at ccsd.net/district/surveys. School staff must complete the survey from a CCSD-networked computer.

“We have had over 2,000 school-based staff participate in the survey so far,” said Director of Accountability and Research Nathan Trenholm. “On average it is taking staff just over seven minutes to complete.”

Survey questions are organized into eight topics: parent involvement, learning attitudes, school safety, bullying and victimization, physical environment and resources, respect for diversity, perception of school performance and perception of district performance. All responses to the surveys are confidential. Student identification numbers are required for the purposes of tracking response rates from each school, preventing duplications and maintaining ability to aggregate responses quickly.

“This year's survey has been completely redone to be more focused and align with the district's strategic imperatives, focus areas and goals found in the Pledge of Achievement,” said Trenholm. “This is an opportunity for staff to indicate if they feel the administration is involving them in decision making. We're also interested if they feel that their school has a sense of vision and a mission that is shared by all staff in the building.”

Survey results are used to show district administration and staff an overall picture of district performance, areas in need of improvement and areas of accomplishment. Aggregated results are distributed at the school, performance zone and district levels. Results of the surveys will be available at ccsd.net/district/surveys in August 2015.

Trenholm said issues that people indicate they have with their schools or the district will be summarized in the results of the survey and will be provided to the School Board of Trustees, executive team and school administration for review.

For more information, contact the Research Department at 702-799-1041, option 4.

Category: employees

Monday, May 11, 2015
Bonanza High School teacher Sara Cuellar gets surprise of a lifetime

Bonanza High School teacher Sarah Cuellar got the surprise of a lifetime on May 8 when Findlay Chevrolet and Silver State Schools Credit Union presented her with a brand new Chevrolet Sonic. The fun-filled giveaway took place on the Bonanza High School campus and was an exciting finale to Teacher Appreciation Week, during which Clark County School District (CCSD) teachers were recognized for their dedication and hard work. Cuellar teaches mathematics at Bonanza and has worked there for 18 years. She also serves as chairperson of the school's math department. Described as devoted and selfless, Cuellar has touched the lives of her students and volunteers at the school in any way she can. Cuellar and her family had to sell their vehicle to pay for medical bills due to some family hardships. She has been carpooling with her colleagues for the past four years to get to work. Even through hardships, Cuellar has continued to prove that she is a dedicated and deserving teacher.

Category: employees