Las Vegas Sun

July 24, 2014

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School District, union reach agreement to save jobs

The Clark County School District has hammered out a tentative, three-year agreement with the support employees’ union that both sides say will save jobs in the midst of massive budget cuts.

In a memo sent today to the School Board and central office administrators, Superintendent Walt Rulffes said a deal was close to being finalized with the Education Support Employees Association, representing more than 11,400 custodians, bus drivers, food service workers, clerical staff and other support employees.

The deal calls for freezing salaries and delaying step increases that otherwise would have been mandated by contract. The district and the union also agreed to use the existing ESEA medical contribution fund to cover a half-percent increase in the cost of employee retirement contributions as well as increased medical costs for current workers.

In the memo, Rulffes also indicated that the district was close to an agreement with the teachers’ union, which represents the majority of Clark County’s more than 18,000 licensed personnel, accounting for 67 percent of the district’s personnel costs. Similar to the agreement with the support employees, the CCEA deal would call for the Teachers’ Health Trust to cover any increased cost in medical benefits.

If the two deals are finalized, it would take care of $25 million of the remaining $28 million budget shortfall for the 2011 fiscal year, which begins in July. The district has already announced plans to cut $117 million through a variety of means, including increasing class sizes. Additionally, the district expects to save $13 million in general fund costs by converting its 76 year-round elementary schools to nine-month calendars.

In a letter posted on the union’s Web site, ESEA President Belinda “Bo” Yealy said the only cost to support employees would be the short-term freezing of the step increases.

“No salary cuts or furlough days!” wrote Yealy, using capital letters for emphasis.

Because of the change to nine-month calendars, which takes effect in August, some support employees will be reassigned to new positions. But the large-scale reduction in force that took place last year – affecting more than 400 support employees – won’t be repeated, wrote Yealy.

Rulffes told the Sun he believed the public – as well as state legislators – would be appreciative of the willingness demonstrated by teachers and support employees to “share the sacrifice.”

Negotiations are still ongoing with the union representing the district’s 1,300 school administrators and the union representing the 160-officer School Police department, which combined equal about 5 percent of the district’s workforce of more than 38,500.

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