School Board president faces challenge from community organizer in District D (2022)

School Board president faces challenge from community organizer in District D (1)

Clark County School Board President Irene Cepeda (left) and Brenda Zamora are competing to represent District D. (Cepeda photo courtesy CCSD, Zamora photo courtesy the candidate)

Policy, politics and progressive commentary

The Clark County School Board trustee once seen as the swing vote between two deeply divided factions faces her first reelection attempt this November. Incumbent Irene Cepeda is being challenged by Brenda Zamora, a mother of three with a background in community organizing and civic engagement.

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Cepeda is probably best known as the trustee who one year ago voted to fire Superintendent Jesus Jara, then rescinded her vote less than a month later. Since then, Cepeda has become school board president, a position that gives her more say in what goes on school board meeting agendas and when those meetings are held.

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Earlier this month, the School Board deemed Jara to be “highly effective” and extended his contract until 2026. The votes were split 4-3, with Cepeda joining Lola Brooks, Evelyn Garcia Morales and Katie Williams in support. Trustees Danielle Ford, Linda Cavazos and Lisa Guzman opposed. The contract secures the controversial superintendent with a $395,000 annual salary — a $75,000 annual bump from his previous salary. It also ensures that any future “firing for convenience” — what the board did and undid last year — would be a costly endeavor.

Cepeda defends her handling of the evaluation and contract extension, saying it came down to scheduling and giving the board enough time to find a successor were the board to vote against contract renewal. Jara’s contract had been set to expire early next year.

“It would take us months,” she said of potentially finding a new superintendent. “We needed to make that decision now.”

Cepeda says the evaluation criteria for Jara aligned with overall goals of school safety, disproportionality and the teacher shortage.

“Just because those are the three goals doesn’t mean everything else is forgotten about,” she added.

Cepeda said CCSD’s human resources team is working out how to address the salary compression issue that emerged when the district earlier this year bumped the salary for educators who are within their first five years of teaching. The district gave established teachers a one-time $5,000 retention bonus.

“I know it seems unfair,” she said, “but at the end of the day, $43,000 a year for a new teacher wasn’t doing it. The biggest impact we could have was bumping (teachers in) those first five years.”

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The starting salary for teachers within CCSD is now $50,000 annually.

Cepeda said that work, which was funded by federal covid relief, provides a base on which to leverage the Legislature to take action on raising salaries for veteran teachers.

“Think of how detrimental it’d be if we went (into session) with no chief, with no leader,” she added.

Brenda Zamora, a first-time candidate who is hoping to unseat Cepeda, says she is more worried about the fallout from the contract extension.

“I have seen, anyone can see, the frustrations from our teachers,” she said. “They’ve said, ‘If he gets renewed, we’re out.’ We deserve better. They completely deserve better.”

As a member of the public, Zamora supported the firing of Jara. She says she attended that school board meeting with her baby in tow because attending was that important to her. But Zamora is not quick to promise to pursue firing Jara if she were to unseat Cepeda and reshift the board’s power — a scenario that would likely require incumbents Danielle Ford and Linda Cavazos retain their seats.

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“I would love to sit down and do a pros and cons list at this point,” said Zamora.

On her end, Cepeda says she hasn’t had the time to sit down and think about the potential makeup of the board post-elections and what it might mean for Jara: “It’s personally lower on my ‘things to worry about’ list.”

On top of that list, continued Cepeda, is trying to turn the embattled board into “a highly functional” one.

Perhaps in that vein, CCSD has submitted a bill draft request (BDR) for the 2023 Legislative Session to propose legislation that “would establish standards and qualifications for all education-related oversight boards such as school board trustees and regents.”

More immediately, “at the forefront of my worries is that the school board stays focused,” said Cepeda. “We have a lot of student data. ‘Tis the season for a lot of reports from the state. And I need to make sure we are talking about that, that that is prioritized in all of our agendas.”

Zamora says she doesn’t want to be seen as a “wild card” but instead as a voice of reason and the voice of the community. Zamora’s professional background is in civic engagement and political activism. She is currently doing communications for Silver State Voices, a group focused on voter empowerment and engagement, and she has previously worked for other advocacy groups working on issues like mandatory paid sick days.

“I’ve proven that I am very involved in my community,” she says. “I’ve started from the bottom. I’ve been doing the groundwork. I am continuing that.”

If elected, Zamora would be the trustee with the youngest children — a fact she suggests has been lobbed as criticism.

“I know there are a lot of conversations about me being too busy, which is unfortunate,” she says. “The whole goal is to get our everyday folks to run for office.”

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Her oldest daughter, a fourth grader at a CCSD school, has an individualized education plan (IEP) and Zamora is passionate about helping families like hers.

“I saw the struggles of IEP families,” she said. “We’d talk about what could be better. We’re all going through the same issues.”

Cepeda grew up in North Las Vegas and is a first-generation immigrant and first-generation college graduate, according to her CCSD bio. She currently works for Nevada State College.

Whichever woman wins the general election will earn $9,000 annually as a trustee. Members are elected for four-year terms. She will represent the Latino-heavy eastside District D.

In the five-candidate primary in June, Cepeda received 26.9% of votes while Zamora received 25%.

According to campaign contribution reports, Cepeda raised $8,150 from Jan. 1 through June 30. All but $650 of that came from two donors — the Clark County Education Association and the Vegas Chamber, which donated $5,000 and $2,500, respectively.

Zamora raised $9,576 from Jan. 1 through June 30. Her top donation of $1,800 came from an individual donor, but several political action committees have contributed to her campaign, including the Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 525 and Laborers Local 872.

Third quarter campaign reports, which cover candidate contributions and spending between July 1 and Sept. 30, are due to the state on Oct. 15.

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Originally published on nevadacurrent.com, part of the TownNews Content Exchange.

(Video) (English) Meeting of the Board of Education, October 19, 2022

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FAQs

What are the community organizer role of a community organizer? ›

Organizers facilitate training and strategy sessions when needed to help their members and leaders learn the skills they need to speak for the group, make good decisions and take the out-front roles. Organizers don't run meetings where members are making decisions.

What are the 5 functions of community organizer? ›

5 Functions of a Community Organizer
  • Grassroots Organization. Community organization is a valuable strategy at all levels, including at the national, regional and local level. ...
  • Outreach with an Impact. ...
  • Educating and Informing the Collective. ...
  • Community Worker. ...
  • Researcher.

What is the role of community organizing in community action Community Development? ›

Community organizing is both a tactic to address specific problems and issues and a longer-term engagement and empowerment strategy. Longer-term objectives of community organizing are to develop the internal capabilities and to increase the decision-making power and influence of underrepresented groups.

What is the responsibility of leader or organizer? ›

Lead Organizer

This person is also responsible for arranging and facilitating organizing team meetings, establishing an action plan, making sure tasks are delegated clearly and appropriately and completed in time, and encouraging the team in the IDDS vision.

What makes a good organizer? ›

Good organizers are knowledgeable about their contract, but not afraid to admit when they don't know the answer. They can stay cool under pressure and handle stress and conflict. They're willing to stand up to management—and they can inspire others to stand up for themselves as well.

What is the basic principle of community organizing? ›

These are: Principle 1: Effective Organizing Balances Process and Product; Principle 2: Planning Is a Complex Value-based, Sociopolitical and Technical Process :Principle 3: There Is No Such Thing as “Rational” and “Irrational” from the Perspective of How Problems Are Defined or Resources Are Allocated ; Principle 4: ...

What are the responsibilities of organizing? ›

An organizer specializes in cleaning and sorting out homes and spaces, using various organizational systems and strategies. They are primarily responsible for coordinating with clients and learning their preferences, traveling to different places, determining areas of improvement, and implementing corrective measures.

What are examples of community organizing? ›

Examples of community organizers might include: Public school parents who organize to demand a high-quality education for their children. Neighbors who organize to address potholes in the road and other infrastructure issues. Laid-off factory workers who organize to protest the shipping of jobs overseas.

What are the stages and goals in community organizing? ›

Community organizing is a process that involves three primary tasks: 1) education and training; 2) organization building and 3) mobilization. The establishment of the WATSAN facility considers the total community situation, integrating efforts and resources to confront existing needs and concerns.

What is community organizing in your own words? ›

"Community organizing is the process of building power through involving a constituency in identifying problems they share and the solutions to those problems that they desire; identifying the people and structures that can make those solutions possible; enlisting those targets in the effort through negotiation and ...

What are the 4 goals of community organizing explain each? ›

The goals of community organizing particularly neighborhood-based organizing, vary, but generally include forming groups; bringing about social justice obtaining, maintaining or restructuring power; developing alternative institutions; and maintaining or revitalizing neighborhoods (Kuyek, 2011).

What are the objectives of community organization? ›

The basic aim and objective of community organization is to abolish the differences among individuals, develop spirit of common interest and sacrifice and also participate collectively in community programs.

Why do you want to become a community organizer? ›

Working as a community organizer provides the rewarding opportunity to get community fired up about a cause for concern and watching a community develop the tools it needs for social change!

What are the 5 most important roles of a leader? ›

  • The Visionary. A good leader clearly demonstrates the expected behaviour of the team. ...
  • Leader Must be a Strategist. Leaders must be strategic thinkers! ...
  • Establish Communication. ...
  • Effective Role Model. ...
  • Leader must be a Talent Advocator. ...
  • Leader must be an Inspiration.

How do you get involved in community organizing? ›

Learn about political or social issues in your community.
  1. Watch the local news. These networks will often cover local issues and give you ideas on how to take action.
  2. Read local newspapers. Look especially at the editorial or opinion sections. ...
  3. Talk to people. This is a crucial skill for a community organizer.

What are the roles of a good organizer of instruction? ›

A good organizer helps the group and the individuals in it to discover, to formulate, and to clarify their own purposes. He or she will not merely tell the learners that they must learn and do this and do that. A good organizer delegates and distributes responsibility as widely as possible.

What is the first step in community organizing and building? ›

The first step to organizing is understanding a community's needs and trends. It helps you determine the issues or concerns that people may have.

What are the 4 strategies of community organizing? ›

THE FOUR STRATEGIES

There are four fundamental strategies available to neighborhood groups to address community problems: community organizing, advocacy, service delivery or development. There is no right or wrong strategy - each organization has to choose among them constantly.

What are the three types of community organization? ›

Rothman has developed three models of community organizing which are locality development, social planning, and social action.

What is the core component of community organizing? ›

Community organizing is the process of bringing together members of a community to work towards common interests. It's as simple as that, and you can do it! Above all, it requires a good amount of determination, perse- verance, a clear plan with goals, reliability, follow-through, and a willingness to compromise.

What is the difference between organizer and leader? ›

Organizers are generally people who coordinate and do tasks, while leaders may take on this role or may not. As an example of the difference between an organizer and a leader, think about a company or organizations budget.

How do you identify community problems? ›

Rather than aim for a complete problem list, here are some criteria you may consider when identifying community problems: The problem occurs too frequently (frequency) The problem has lasted for a while (duration) The problem affects many people (scope, or range)

What are the roles of the community? ›

The Role of Community in Society Communities are an essential part of our society, because we all depend and interact with each other. Communities are groups of people that help an individual to learn and develop new ideas.

What are the roles of a good organizer of instructions? ›

A good organizer helps the group and the individuals in it to discover, to formulate, and to clarify their own purposes. He or she will not merely tell the learners that they must learn and do this and do that. A good organizer delegates and distributes responsibility as widely as possible.

What is the role of an organizer in a church? ›

Church Organizers assists church and school leaders better define the ministry process (policies and procedures, roles and responsibilities) in an effort to reclaim leadership resources to focus on their primary task of promoting the gospel of Jesus Christ.

What are the responsibilities of organizing? ›

An organizer specializes in cleaning and sorting out homes and spaces, using various organizational systems and strategies. They are primarily responsible for coordinating with clients and learning their preferences, traveling to different places, determining areas of improvement, and implementing corrective measures.

What are the 5 principles of community development? ›

Community development is a holistic approach grounded in principles of empowerment, human rights, inclusion, social justice, self-determination and collective action (Kenny, 2007).

What is the role of community in education? ›

The purpose of community learning and development is to develop the capacity of individuals and groups of all ages through their actions, the capacity of communities, to improve their quality of life. Central to this is their ability to participate in democratic processes.

What are the rights and responsibilities of community members? ›

Community rights and responsibilities
  • The right to its own identity.
  • The right to access skills and resources within the wider community.
  • The right to support its members within the wider community.
  • The right to set its own agenda, constitution and institutions.
  • The right to participate within the wider community.

What is the difference between organizer and leader? ›

Organizers are generally people who coordinate and do tasks, while leaders may take on this role or may not. As an example of the difference between an organizer and a leader, think about a company or organizations budget.

What is the importance of advance organizer? ›

An advance organizer helps teachers present information so that students will better understand and remember it. It can be defined as a tool used to introduce the lesson topic and illustrate the relationship between what the students are about to learn and the information they have already learned.

What is the first step in developing an advance organizer? ›

First, an advance organizer can be an introduction to a new topic, with the goals of giving students an overview, connecting new information to what the students already know, and illustrating the organization of the new concept or information to be processed and learned.

What are examples of community organizing? ›

Examples of community organizers might include: Public school parents who organize to demand a high-quality education for their children. Neighbors who organize to address potholes in the road and other infrastructure issues. Laid-off factory workers who organize to protest the shipping of jobs overseas.

What is community organizing in your own words? ›

"Community organizing is the process of building power through involving a constituency in identifying problems they share and the solutions to those problems that they desire; identifying the people and structures that can make those solutions possible; enlisting those targets in the effort through negotiation and ...

What are the principles of community organization? ›

These are: Principle 1: Effective Organizing Balances Process and Product; Principle 2: Planning Is a Complex Value-based, Sociopolitical and Technical Process :Principle 3: There Is No Such Thing as “Rational” and “Irrational” from the Perspective of How Problems Are Defined or Resources Are Allocated ; Principle 4: ...

What is Organising and its importance? ›

Organizing creates the framework needed to reach a company's objectives and goals. Organizing is the process of defining and grouping activities, and establishing authority relationships among them to attain organizational objectives.

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