Clark County School District school buses line up to pick up special needs students at Variety School, 2800 E. Stewart Ave. on Thursday, Feb. 24, 2017. Photo by Jeff Scheid.

The months-long process to replace outgoing Clark County School District Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky, who’s retiring in June, has begun.

The Board of Trustees voted unanimously Thursday night to proceed with hiring a firm to conduct a national search. Trustees will discuss the next step — a request for proposals to find a suitable search firm — at an Oct. 13 board retreat.

The board generally agreed that conducting a broad search would be in the best interests of the nation’s fifth-largest school district, which is balancing a major transformation for how it operates along with an estimated $60 million deficit.

“I think it’s imperative that we get this decision right,” Trustee Carolyn Edwards said. “Our district is in a delicate time. We are implementing a reorganization and other major reform at the speed of light, and we are dealing with an unprecedented budget crisis.”

Hiring and overseeing a superintendent is arguably the most important role of the school board, which is made up of elected representatives. The board members made it clear they intend to steer the process and not let outside forces influence the selection.

Board President Deanna Wright said hiring a search firm could cost an estimated $100,000, but several community members and organizations, including the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce, have offered to donate money to the cause.

Trustees concluded that any person or entity that contributes money would be told it’s a “no strings attached” donation. In other words, donors wouldn’t have influence over the superintendent selection.

Trustee Kevin Child, who ultimately voted for engaging a search firm, urged his peers to remain mindful of all costs throughout the process.

“We’ve got to be careful of the dollars,” he said. “I think we all agree that we want the best. We deserve the best. Our kids deserve the best.”

As the search moves forward, Trustee Chris Garvey said she wants to ensure transparency and make more candidates’ names known at earlier stages of the recruitment process. Trustees intend to discuss that matter with potential search firms.

Sylvia Lazos, policy director for Educate Nevada Now, a nonpartisan organization that focuses on equity issues, urged the board to consider a timeline for when they want to name a new superintendent and also offer competitive compensation.

“This is not a position we want to be cheap at,” she said. “We want the best person possible. We are very challenged.”

Separately, the board voted 5-2 to set a monthly cap — $350 — on their mileage reimbursements because it was previously unlimited. Garvey and Child cast the dissenting votes, arguing in favor of giving up their out-of-region travel budgets rather than potentially limiting how much driving they do in town.