The superintendent of the 311,000-student Clark County School District in Nevada, which encompasses the Las Vegas metro area and is the nation’s fifth largest district, will leave his post later this month, according to an announcement from the district released yesterday.
Dwight D. Jones has been superintendent in Clark County since 2010 and was slated to continue in that role for two more years. He was the state education commissioner in Colorado before moving to the Las Vegas area. Jones is leaving the district to return to Texas to take care of his mother, who is ill.
While superintendent, Jones cut the district’s budget as the city weathered the aftermath of the Great Recession. He also oversaw an increase in students’ performance on standardized tests and a reduction in the district’s dropout rate, according to district spokeswoman Amanda Fulkerson.
In a statement, Jones noted his efforts to rank schools, to improve graduation rates, and to measure students’ achievement. “This community has and always will have a special place in my heart, but my family needs me now and I have a duty to respond...My only request is that this good work not slow down...The education movement happening in Clark County is not about a superintendent—it’s about you and your commitment to our students.” The Clark County schools’ Facebook page includes videos of board members’ responses to Jones’ departure.
Nevada governor Brian Sandoval—who stepped in to intervene when Clark County’s application to the Race to the Top district competition seemed likely to be thwarted by district-union tensions—said in a statement issued in response to the news: “Under Dwight’s leadership, graduation rates in Clark County rose, test scores improved, and the district took steps toward more transparency and better accountability. I am confident that the school district will continue to improve the delivery of education for our state’s children and I wish Dwight and his family the very best.”
Jones’ successor has not yet been chosen, but deputy superintendent Pat Skorkowsky will serve as acting superintendent if the board does not select an interim or replacement after Jones’s departure on March 22. Jones’s salary was close to $400,000 per year, according to TransparentNevada.com, a project of the Nevada Policy Research Institute.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal says Jones is leaving with more of his ambitious reforms “in shambles than in action.” The paper also reports that many of the board members had not been informed of Jones’s imminent departure. Here’s a piece from the Review-Journal from around the time Jones arrived in Clark County and here’s thorough (and less negative) farewell from the Las Vegas Sun .
Jones was the subject of a profile—called “Game Changer"—in District Administration Magazine last year. And Rick Hess, who writes an opinion blog hosted on Education Week‘s website, blogged about some of Jones’ initiatives earlier this year, commending Jones for making the district’s finances public.
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A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.