LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Clark County Superintendent Dr. Jesus Jara said he would focus on optimal funding, employee benefits, and school attendance as part of an approach he described in his annual State of the Schools address.

In the address, Dr. Jara said CCSD is determined to improve grades and graduation rates. He added that the district would not settle for average students despite Nevada reportedly making below-average investments in education.

Additionally, the Silver State ranked 49th in the nation for pupil-per-teacher ratios.

Dr. Jara said that Nevada has not invested in early childhood education and the district is struggling with hiring teachers, leaving many vacancies.

Most of the teacher openings are in areas of the Las Vegas valley where communities of predominantly Black and Hispanic students live.

“Teachers have choice, right. We have to work within our bargaining units to provide more incentives,” Dr. Jara said. “You know, the work may be different, and how do we incentivize educators to go into that? So, we’re having those conversations right now.”

John Vallerdita executive director of the Clark County Education Association said he supports the efforts to increase the graduation rate, however, it has to be more than that.

“We’re not interested in just spiking the graduation numbers without kids really graduating with a good foundation of education,”Vallerdita said. “I think the superintendent has one year to start producing significant outcomes, I mean one year after that budget has been adopted in July.”

According to the Clark County Education Association, the school district will need at least 14,000 teachers over the next 10 years.

Dr. Jara added that partnerships with Nevada State College will help the district produce its own teachers.