By KATELYNN RICHARDSON
THE CENTER SQUARE CONTRIBUTOR
(The Center Square) – The Clark County School District (CCSD) Board of Trustees voted to approve a contract extension for Superintendent Dr. Jesus Jara that includes a $75,000 raise.
Dr. Jara’s contract was set to expire January 15, 2023. His new contract featuring a $395,000 annual salary will be extended to 2026.
The board was split on the decision, with trustees Garcia Morales, Irene Cepeda, Katie Williams, and Lola Brooks voting in favor and Lisa Guzmán, Linda Cavazos, and Danielle Ford voting against.
Ms. Ford questioned the necessity of rushing the new contract through if Dr. Jara’s current contract would roll over on a month-to-month basis after it expires in January. She called the process “flawed, sketchy, and quite frankly an abuse of power by four trustees.”
She also said it was disrespectful to constituents who “have a right to elect trustees to make decisions like this.” Out of the seven trustees, three are up for election in November.
Mr. Morales, Ms. Brooks and Ms. Williams emphasized the need to maintain stability in the district.
“There’s been too much turnover in this district,” Mr. Morales said. “Are we where we need to be? Absolutely not. We own that, and we own that as a board.”
Ms. Williams said extending the contract through 2026 would maintain stability “through two election cycles.”
“This board is absolutely insane,” she said. “It’s completely off the rails. Do you think any superintendent worth his (or her) weight in gold is going to want to come to this district after we have constantly put ourselves on display?”
Last October, the board voted to fire Dr. Jara, only to reverse the decision in November. Jara afterwards sought a $2 million settlement from the board, claiming some members had created a hostile work environment. The district settled in August for $95,000 to cover Jara’s attorney fees.
Public comment was mostly opposed to Dr. Jara’s raise and extended contract.
Brian Walker, a district parent, said it is “ridiculous” that the only solution for CCSD is to “make sure the person the public views as least capable of doing the job is there for even longer.”
Dylan Keith, representing the Vegas Chamber, said he was in favor because “turnover in operational leadership at this juncture will not enhance student outcomes.”
Jessica Allie, a former CCSD special ed teacher, said that board is setting a bad precedent. “It’s not just a few people who are disgruntled or happy,” she said.
“We fired him,” she said. “Now you’re telling us he’s making a satisfactory rating. How does that happen?”
Last week, the Board of Trustees rated Dr. Jara as “highly effective” on his job evaluation in a 5-2 vote.
Education data analysis firm Data Insight Partners pointed out that the data showing an increase in student proficiency during Dr. Jara’s time was incomplete, given only 54% of students participated in standardized testing during the 2020-21 school year. They also noted that more teachers than ever left the district during the 2021-2022 school year.“I am extremely grateful for the opportunity that has been granted by the majority of this board to continue to lead this great district,” Dr. Jara said after the board’s vote to extend his contract. “We have ways to go. I won’t deny that. But we have to really continue to stay focused on the health, safey, and the wellbeing of our 300,000 lives that I am humbled and honored to serve as their superintendent.”