- Associated Press - Monday, January 16, 2017

LAS VEGAS (AP) - An overhaul that will break up the nation’s fifth-largest school district is making a messy slog toward an August deadline amid a lawsuit and other objections.

The Clark County School District sued the state in December, asking a judge in Carson City to block parts of the law passed by the state Legislature in 2015. The lawsuit says school trustees’ concerns were largely ignored for months.

“Clearly this is aimed at stopping the implementation of the reorganization, and the department supports implementation of the bill,” Education Department spokesman Greg Bortolin told the Las Vegas Review-Journal (https://bit.ly/2iixATO).

The attorney general’s office, which was served with the lawsuit last week, declined to comment about the litigation.

Meanwhile, the Community Implementation Council, which is overseeing the rollout, continues to work with a consulting firm to identify critical needs for the reorganization intended to shift power from a central district office toward individual schools. The district has more than 320,000 students at 357 campuses.

Among the needs identified were a weighted student funding formula and a technology system to manage the district’s roughly 41,000 employees.

Tom Skancke, president of the TSC2 Group consulting firm, said the technology system could cost as much as $46 million and take a year to install.

“The urgency and the crisis is here,” Skancke told the council. “And my fear is that we do all of this work, and we don’t have the technology to back it up.”

Skancke and others have encouraged the council to ask business leaders to help.

Council Chairman Glenn Christenson said the lawsuit hasn’t stopped the overhaul, which he called important to improving education.

Nevada public schools placed last in the nation this month in a ranking of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Education Week gave Nevada a “D” grade, with a score of 65 out of 100 in its “Quality Counts 2017” report.

The reorganization aims to give power to schools that will be run by organizational teams consisting of parents, teachers and staff.

Schools would begin crafting individual budgets without a weighted funding formula for students in special categories such as free and reduced lunch.

A weighted formula for special education students currently exists, and the district and state Education Department have argued over who should decide the amount allocated for each student.

Christenson said the rollout could be done in time for the next academic year.

“But it’s going to take a lot of work,” he told the Review-Journal.

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Information from: Las Vegas Review-Journal, https://www.lvrj.com

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