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August 29, 2014

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Principals warned of layoffs if teachers union wins arbitration

The Clark County School District warned school principals Wednesday to prepare a contingency plan to shed nearly 1,000 teaching and other licensed positions should the teachers union win arbitration over contract negotiations.

Clark County Schools Superintendent Dwight Jones met with school principals early Wednesday morning, urging them to plan for a mid-year reduction in staff to balance the budget should the Clark County Education Association prevail in the arbitration.

Each school is expected to plan for a reduction of about 6 percent in licensed staff, which includes teachers, counselors, school nurses and specialists such as speech pathologists.

The School District has been seeking $39 million in concessions from the union to close its budget gap this year and an additional $39 million the following year. Proposed concessions include freezing salary and step increases and consolidating the Teachers Health Trust.

The teachers union has rejected the district’s plans to freeze salaries and declared an impasse in August, sending the matter to arbitration after four meetings. Both sides have been meeting with an arbitrator, but it is unknown when a decision will be made.

According to a memo from Chief Human Resources Officer Staci Vesneske to school principals, the potential layoffs would result in middle and high schools having to develop a new master schedule, which determines student and teacher scheduling as well as class sizes.

The painstaking process would occur midyear and would cause a major disruption for school staff and students, School District spokeswoman Amanda Fulkerson said.

“It would be devastating,” Fulkerson said. “It’ll take teachers out of classrooms, increasing class sizes. It’s not in the best interest for students. We want to avoid this as much as possible.”

Elementary schools with fewer than 400 students would have no layoffs, according to the memo. Schools with more students would lose positions, up to seven licensed positions for high schools with more than 2,635 students, according to the memo.

The memo did not come as anything new to union President Ruben Murillo. The School District warned earlier this year that at least 500 to 800 positions could be cut should the district be forced to grant teacher raises, per its contract.

“It’s unfortunate the district is looking to cut resources that impact student achievement — teachers,” Murillo said, criticizing the district for hiring more than 250 new teachers earlier this year. “It doesn’t make sense to hire teachers and then lay them off...Our goal is to keep our teachers.”

The union is being “thorough, asking a lot of questions” about the proposed contract, Murillo said.

About 60 union members wearing red T-shirts packed Tuesday night’s School Board meeting, reminding Board members of their “sacrifices” in the classroom and urging them to “invest in teachers” to better student achievement.

About 750 positions may be cut by January should the arbitrator rule in the union’s favor, according to a principal who attended the superintendent’s meeting Wednesday.

The School District is not looking to cut any positions from special education, said the principal, who wished to remain anonymous because of the sensitive nature of potential layoffs.

The School District intends to follow a new state law that de-emphasizes seniority in making staffing decisions should layoffs occur, Fulkerson said. Teachers with two negative evaluations would be laid off first, before teachers with less seniority.

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  1. Unless we return to the basics of education, which I doubt, students and children will only be a 'commodity' to Unions and Administrative positions.

  2. Typical example of selfish union mentality. Refuse to accept reality of our dire situation and ready and willing to sacrifice those with less seniority. Oh... they spin it is for the children, but with less than 50% graduating and a majority of those that do... basically illiterate... we need to look closer at the teachers that are retained and/or offered positions.

  3. Here's an idea lets have a master teacher and have the smartest kid teach the others after doing away with the child labor laws and then the kids can have more money for there collage education.

    [Sarcasm]

  4. I'm a member of the CCEA, and I don't consider myself selfish. The budget could have been cut in ways that didn't involve teachers-- but it wasn't. Instead, we get another layer of bureaucracy, a district that hired additional teachers this year (and will now have to lay them off), endless programs that have nothing to do with students, and a superintendent who makes six times what a teacher does (but who has not been asked to sacrifice).

    Teachers are being bullied by a district that wants to change our healthcare (without a financial motive) against our will, a district who unilaterally broke an existing contract by taking 1.125% from our paychecks since July, a district that wants to deny a raise to teachers who spent thousands of dollars seeking an education with the promise of one.

    Why should I agree to give up money to a bully who threatens my livelihood because of their mismanagement? Why are the teachers being vilified? Teachers have already sacrificed, and aren't in the mood to do so again until we see the CCSD work with us instead of against us.

  5. I agree 100%

    I'm a member of the CCEA, and I don't consider myself selfish. The budget could have been cut in ways that didn't involve teachers-- but it wasn't. Instead, we get another layer of bureaucracy, a district that hired additional teachers this year (and will now have to lay them off), endless programs that have nothing to do with students, and a superintendent who makes six times what a teacher does (but who has not been asked to sacrifice).

    Teachers are being bullied by a district that wants to change our healthcare (without a financial motive) against our will, a district who unilaterally broke an existing contract by taking 1.125% from our paychecks since July, a district that wants to deny a raise to teachers who spent thousands of dollars seeking an education with the promise of one.

    Why should I agree to give up money to a bully who threatens my livelihood because of their mismanagement? Why are the teachers being vilified? Teachers have already sacrificed, and aren't in the mood to do so again until we see the CCSD work with us instead of against us.

  6. Teachers are not being asked to give up pay already received, only pay raises not yet received. Apparently those with seniority in the system and whose jobs are safe have told the union to shaft those without. Layoff those with the least seniority and leave us alone.

    Sounds a little cannibalistic at worst and self serving at best. They are voting their pocketbook by opting for raises over junior teachers and throwing both them and the students to the wind.

    Obviously they don't care about the kids as they always say, they care about themselves as evident by their actions which speak louder than their words.

    We need to remember this when the same old refrain about more money from the counties tax payers is trotted out once again as the panacea for all that ails our last place education rankings.

    Especially when school districts in other states with equal or more minority and non english speaking students operate on smaller budgets with better results.

    It's not the money, it's the people involved and ours or at least their union seems to care not about anything other than their pay raises not yet received. They should be grateful someone is trying to keep them all employed.

  7. Many Commenters here made excellent observations and points! One thing is certain, Teachers possess NO power in the decision making within the school district. Yet the public finger is constanting pointing at them in blaming. Teachers did not select their profession believing that they will ever become financially rich from doing so.
    Nevada LAWMAKERS continue the corruption embedded in the Nevada State Constitution with laws written by and for the MINING industry to not pay their fair share in TAXES, so Nevada continues to LACK the needed revenue to run the state, for decades, and now centuries. The blame begins there.

    Buddy: "Who caused this mess in the first place? The teachers and other public sector employees? Nope. But they are the first to be penalized. And aint it funny how big mining corporations that benefit from nevada resources (while being based out of state and/or out of the country,) are never asked to pony up their fair share of this so-called "shared sacrifice?"

    The way Education and Educators are being treated, is way different than MINING and GAMING are being treated in the media, and we as citizens are being left to connect the dots in media coverage. Guess it is about not biting the hand that feeds you in advertising, perhaps....again, these Commenters made some fine points:

    VegasHope: "What concessions did the support staff make, if any? How about the admins?"

    Fan: "Pay no attention to the massive waste, incompetence and corruption behind the curtain at the District Level of Administration. Just blindly accept it when they tell you that the evil teachers are to blame for everything wrong with education. No teacher has ever made a policy decision or decided where to spend any money at the CCSD."

    Tanker1975: "Is it just me or is there a disconnect between this article and the article about the education town hall which says that education is important for the economic recovery of Nevada. Is education important or not? If education is important, why are we making cuts?"