Thursday, Aug. 25, 2011 | 11:50 p.m.
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- School District, teachers union at an impasse (8-10-2011)
- School District to hang on to 1,000 teachers, maintain class sizes (6-8-2011)
- School Board OKs budget with at least 1,834 layoffs (5-18-2011)
- State budget windfall could prevent School District layoffs (5-3-2011)
- Tentative schools budget includes 2,500 layoffs, pay cuts, larger classes (3-25-2011)
The Clark County School District unanimously approved a final contract Thursday night with its administrators union, a move that would save the district about $1.9 million.
To help plug a $150 million budget hole, the School District began seeking concessions earlier this year from its unions representing administrators, support staff and teachers. The district entered into formal contract negotiations with the Clark County Association of School Administrators and Professional-Technical Employees about four months ago.
Under the two-year contract, the School District would freeze step increases, cut two personal leave days, pass along half of a Public Employees’ Retirement System rate increase and continue a 1.5 percent salary reduction from the last school year that was to be restored.
In exchange for the union concessions, the School District would maintain health benefits and eliminate seniority as the only basis in making layoffs. If the School District must implement a “reduction-in-force,” administrators with two unsatisfactory evaluations, suspensions for five days or more or abused sick leave would be laid off before senior members.
The union unanimously approved the contract at its Aug. 17 meeting. The School Board formally ratified it Thursday night.
“In the midst of the financial cuts the School District was having to make, I think we’ve got a contract that’s a win-win for everybody,” said CCASAPE President Stephen Augspurger. “There were some things we negotiated that we think is going to make the system better for kids and employees. We’re quite happy with what was done.”
The administrators’ contract approval comes about two weeks after the district’s negotiations with its teachers union broke down. The Clark County Education Association declared an impasse Aug. 10 after it couldn’t broker a contract agreement with the School District during its four scheduled meetings.
The matter will now head to arbitration, where a judge decides the outcome of contract negotiations. The district has warned that if concessions cannot be reached, at least 500 teacher positions may be eliminated. The teachers union and the district are choosing a judge and scheduling arbitration dates.
“It’s funny; in the past we’ve been able to work these things out,” Clark County Education Association President Ruben Murillo said. “We’ve had collaborative negotiations, and this year they’re not. In 2001 was the last time we went to arbitration.”
About 30 teachers union members dressed in red T-shirts stood behind Murillo on Thursday as he addressed the School Board, protesting what he feels are the district’s “anti-teacher” concessions. A number of teachers also spoke out about the stalled contract negotiations.
Teachers are some of the most disrespected people, said Rancho High School special education teacher John Collins, who garnered applause from the audience.
“There’s no thrill like the thrill when a kid gets it,” he said. “You love it, and that’s why you do it. But you don’t take a vow of poverty. You have obligations — kids, family and grandkids. You’re also supplying the things the school used to supply to take into the classroom.”
While the School District has finished formal contract negotiations with two of its unions, it is still bargaining with its support staff union — made up of custodians, cafeteria workers, bus drivers, librarians and IT personnel.
The group will have its fifth meeting in mid-September. Union leaders said they were hopeful for a resolution but are disappointed with the negotiations so far.
“Support staff and teachers are really the backbone of the School District,” said Education Support Employees Association President John Carr. “They’re the ones that make sure the kids get to school safe, the food in the cafeteria is hot or cold, the kids in the playground don’t get hurt. Yet we’re the ones you’re balancing the budget on. I don’t get it.”