With more than 320,000 students, the Clark County School District is the sixth largest in the nation. There has been talk of breaking it up into smaller, more manageable units, and in 2016, the process began to reorganize the CCSD on a more school-centered model. The 2017–2018 school year will be the first in which the majority of decisions will be made by a school organization team of educators, staff and parents.
“We’re redefining how we relate with each other,” says Kellie Ballard, director of the office of the deputy superintendent. “Many things can affect what a school needs, and those needs will determine what the relationship between schools and central [administration] will be. Our purpose is to provide for schools and to provide for students.”
Instead of educational mandates coming from a central office, each of the 350-plus school teams will work with the school principals to decide which programs and services most benefit their students, and the central administration will provide them. The teams will also choose how to spend the majority of their school’s budget.
“Education finance is very complicated, and I think that the realization of how tight it is and how little there is to work with is eye-opening for some of the team members,” explains Ballard.
In an atmosphere where there is often debate about whether schools are adequately funded and spend their money wisely, when community members become part of the budgeting process, they gain a new perspective about how complex it actually is. “I really expect that we’ll be forming 1,200 advocates for their school district every year—they see the challenges we face as we try to meet the needs of the kids,” says Ballard.
Team members serve from October 1 to September 30. “They get to run through the majority of the school year up through when we receive results from state testing,” she explains. “They will be able to participate in the full cycle of planning, working out a plan and then seeing some results come through.” Those eligible to serve are parents/guardians of students, teachers and support staff.
While it’s an evolving process, Ballard says that the experience thus far has been a positive one. “Team members felt like their voices were valued. They appreciated being part of the conversation, trying to make their schools a better place for their students and for other students.”