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New Clark County School Board members share their goals for district

The four nonvoting trustees appointed by Southern Nevada officials will join seven elected board members in January.
Rocio Hernandez
Rocio Hernandez

In January, the Clark County School Board will ring in the new year with four nonvoting members.

The incoming trustees were appointed over the past two months by Clark County commissioners and the city councils of Las Vegas, North Las Vegas and Henderson. All have backgrounds in K-12 and higher education. 

Joining the seven elected members are:

  • Adam Johnson, the senior director for the College Board’s Western region and former West Las Vegas charter school leader, who was selected by the Las Vegas City Council in early October
  • Ramona Esparza-Stoffregan, a former Valley High School principal and president of the Leadership Institute of Nevada, a nonprofit organization focused on mentoring leaders in education, who was selected by the Henderson City Council during its Oct. 17 meeting
  • Isaac Barron, a teacher at Rancho High School and member of the North Las Vegas City Council, which selected him at its Oct. 18 meeting 
  • Lisa Satory, principal at the Pinecrest Academy Sloan Canyon charter school in Henderson and former Clark County School District (CCSD) teacher and administrator, who was selected by the Clark County Commission during its Nov. 7 meeting

Barron’s appointment is unique because state and district policy have previously prevented district employees from serving on their school board. But weeks after his appointment, it remains unclear whether Barron will be required to resign from his role as a teacher before being sworn in or whether an exception will be made given the nonvoting nature of this position. 

These nonvoting positions on the school board were created in 2023 by AB175, which was sponsored by Assemblywoman Shannon Bilbray-Axelrod (D-Las Vegas) and Assemblyman Toby Yurek (R-Henderson).

During the 2023 legislative session, Yurek and Bilbray-Axelrod, who served as the Assembly Education Committee chairwoman, said these positions are meant to bring more voices, professionalism and expertise to the Clark County School Board, which, they argue, will improve student outcomes.

The idea for a hybrid school board that includes a mix of elected and appointed members is not new, but it gained traction this year particularly in Southern Nevada, where the state’s largest school district has been plagued for the past two years with issues surrounding student learning loss following the COVID-19 pandemic, school violence and infighting among board members.

Most recently, top Democratic lawmakers Speaker Steve Yeager (D-Las Vegas) and Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizarro (D-Las Vegas) have criticized the district for its inability to come to an agreement with the Clark County Education Association on a new contract. They have called for Superintendent Jesus Jara’s resignation or termination by the school board. 

The Clark County School Board opposed the bill during the session, but said in a Nov. 17 email statement to The Nevada Independent that it ultimately expects all members to focus on improving student outcomes through their governance and not narrow political priorities or agendas.

“Our community has lost precious time infighting, blaming, and shaming each other,” Clark County School Board President Evelyn Garcia Morales said in the statement. “Our school board is united in addressing the academic challenges our students face and hopes new members will take what they learn to advocate for priorities that are within the purview of the municipalities.”

As trustees, the appointed members will serve four-year terms and have the same responsibilities as the elected members, including attending closed-door sessions and policy and operational discussions, but they won’t be able to vote or serve as an officer. 

The four incoming trustees say that doesn’t deter them. 

“You don't have to vote to be able to ask really thoughtful and impactful questions and then start discussions that allow for our district [and] our district partners to be able to have really clear actions that they're going to work toward,” Johnson said. 

A call to serve 

Esparza-Stoffregan, who retired as a principal in 2021, said when she heard about the position, she felt a calling to serve the district in a different leadership capacity and bring to the table her experience as an educator, administrator and public servant of the community that she grew up in. 

Esparza-Stoffregan said aside from being nonvoting, she doesn’t see her role as being any different than a traditional trustee, and plans to listen to community members and have direct conversations with Jara and her fellow trustees. 

“I hope to be a bridge to transparency, communication and, really, relationships amongst not only my fellow trustees and with the superintendent, but with the community,” she said.   

Barron said he wasn’t interested in serving on the school board until North Las Vegas Mayor Pamela Goynes-Brown suggested it given his almost 30 years of experience as an educator. 

One of the biggest challenges Barron said he sees within the district is its shortage of qualified teachers. He cited a recent city-commissioned report by Data Insight Partners that found that in mid-January, North Las Vegas schools had over five times more teacher vacancies than Henderson schools and twice as many vacancies than Las Vegas schools. 

“We need qualified teachers in front of the kids here, who are going to be invested and here for the long term to help these kids out,” Barron said. 

Johnson has been interested in serving on the board since 2016 when he unsuccessfully ran against the then-incumbent, former CCSD school board Trustee Linda Young, for the District C  seat, which represents parts of west Las Vegas and North Las Vegas. 

He said he believes his experience as an executive director of a West Las Vegas charter school and his work with the College Board, a national nonprofit that’s behind the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) standardized college admissions test and Advanced Placement courses, have given him a view of education at the micro and macro levels as well as access to a national network of resources. 

Satory said one of her personal goals is to always be contributing to education. She currently serves on the Mater Academy of Nevada Board, which oversees three K-12 charter school campuses, and previously served on the Pinecrest Foundation, Nevada Association of School Administrators and Henderson Community Education Advisory boards. 

Satory is also the wife of a longtime Foothill High School teacher and mother of a kindergartener, second grader and twin eighth graders, who all attend her school. 

Satory said that as a school administrator, she’s always focused on creating a positive workplace climate to improve teacher retention and would like to support the district in addressing morale among teachers. 

One particular source of frustration for CCSD teachers has been the lack of progress on a new contract between the district and the teachers union, the Clark County Education Association. 

“I definitely think that that's something that needs to happen as quick as possible,” she said about agreeing to a new contract.

Although Satory and Johnson have backgrounds in charter schools that, while publicly funded, were not under the authority of CCSD, they said they are committed to supporting CCSD. 

“If people see my actions and they say you're not acting in the best interest of Clark County School District students because of whatever, I hope they give me that feedback. I'll welcome it and I'll listen to it and then I'll adjust my behavior accordingly,” he said. 

Satory said she believes charter schools and the school district can learn from each other. 

“We're all public schools and it's about school choice for families and what the best fit is,” she said. “We definitely want to just work together collaboratively to make education across the state better.”


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