Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2011 | 12:22 a.m.
Beyond the Sun
Grim, with arms crossed, the 80 teachers and education personnel watching Gov. Brian Sandoval’s budget address Monday night weren’t expecting good news.
Still, there were no groans or shaking of fists from those gathered at the teachers’ union headquarters in Las Vegas.
When the governor proposed cutting spending per pupil by 9 percent, or $270, there were some grimaces. The moans would come later when union leaders spoke.
There was some murmuring when Sandoval talked about “education reform” of an “antiquated system.” And there was more grumbling about ending teacher tenure.
During the speech, the loudest applause came when Sandoval said he planned $10 million for the Millennium Scholarships.
After the speech, Ruby Caliendo, 40, a science teacher at Orr Middle School, said she was “very disappointed” in the governor’s speech.
“I disagree with him completely that our system is broken. It’s not our system, it’s the preparation of our kids these days. For my school, is it my fault that students come to me in the eighth grade and read at a second grade level?” (Sandoval said Monday he wants to end social promotion from the third grade, holding back students who can’t yet read at that grade level.)
Caliendo also worried that class sizes would rise sharply with teacher layoffs. She said she has 30 science students in a room built for 24. If the number rises to 40, she will lack enough lab equipment and “I’ll be teaching chemistry with pencil and paper.”
Gary Peck, union executive director, told the teachers, to loud applause, that the governor’s speech was “a recipe for disaster.” He added that it was an assault on public education and collective bargaining.
Ruben Murillo, president of the Clark County teachers union, agreed and said the governor’s address was a “public flogging” of teachers: “I felt like I was getting lifted up and slapped around.”
Nearly 90 percent of a school district’s budget goes to salaries for teachers, administrators and support personnel.
There are nearly 28,000 public school teachers in Nevada, with an average annual salary of nearly $48,000.