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Teachers union rejects three-day furlough concession

Updated Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2012 | 5:44 p.m.

The local teachers union rejected the Clark County School District’s contract proposal — which included furloughs — during a closed meeting Monday night, according to an union press release.

The Clark County Education Association and the School District are proceeding with arbitration after the district declared an impasse in June over contract negotiations for this upcoming school year.

Last school year, arbitration wasn’t declared until mid-August, which delayed the arbitration ruling until May. The arbitrator ruled in favor of the union, which fought bitterly against the district to keep teacher pay raises and their nonprofit health insurance plans.

The arbitrator found the district to have the ability to continue paying raises for the last month of last school year. The district, in response, eliminated more than 1,000 teaching positions — including 419 actual teachers — to bridge a $64 million budget deficit. (The other 600 positions were funded vacancies that the district could not fill with qualified teachers, district officials said.)

However, there was an higher-than-expected number of teachers who left the district last year – about 1,200 employees – due to retirements and resignations. As a result, all of the 419 laid-off teachers were invited back to teach, district officials said.

Still, the district will operate with 1,000 fewer teachers next year, because the 419 returning teachers back-filled higher-than-expected retirements and resignations. That means class sizes will still rise by an additional three students in a district that has the distinction of having one of the highest average class sizes in the nation.

The School District — perhaps learning a lesson from this past year — swiftly declared an impasse in late June after five meetings with the union. State law requires that negotiating parties have at least four meetings before an impasse can be declared.

Despite going into arbitration, talks between the district and the union have not stalled, said union spokeswoman Letty Elias. Both sides have continued to meet to negotiate terms of a new teachers contract, she said.

“We would like for teachers to know where they stand when they go back to school next week,” Elias said. “But, while we don’t want to drag out the process, we also don’t want to jump to a proposal if it’s not to our benefit.”

According to the union’s press release, nearly 1,500 teachers attended the meeting, which was closed to the media. An “overwhelming” majority of attendees rejected the district’s proposal after discussion, the release said.

However, the district spokeswoman Amanda Fulkerson said Tuesday that the contract proposal the union voted down on Monday wasn't proposed by the district, but the union itself.

"This week, a few hundred teachers voted to reject a contract first proposed by their own union that would have furloughed teachers for three days in the coming school year," Fulkerson said in a statement. "We will continue to pursue arbitration to finalize a contract with our teachers."

Regardless of whose proposal it was, the teachers union said their vote “(reaffirmed) their belief that CCSD had used the layoff of 416 of their colleagues as a bargaining chip to get teachers to enter into a concessionary contract,” the release said.

Chief union negotiator John Vellardita told teachers that even if the district and union could compromise on teacher pay and benefits, bitter contract disputes will continue unless there is more state funding for public education, the release said.

That’s why the union is pushing for a ballot question that — if approved by voters in November — would impose a 2 percent margin tax on business revenue, the release said. The so-called “Education Initiative” would raise about $800 million annually in funding for Nevada’s public education, the release said.

The union also launched a petition drive Monday to collect more than 72,350 tickets to ensure the “Education Initiative” would appear before the 2013 Legislature.

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  1. The union busting tactics of Dwight Jones and the School Board have been shameful. It has only served to strengthen the resolve of the Teachers Union to fight for what is fair for the teachers that they represent. Jones should be fired for his games.

  2. Clyde, the CCEA is not a public organization and thus has the right to hold meetings in private.

    This should show that once and for all, the CCSD has been lying to teachers, and to the public. We were told that there would be layoffs because of the arbitrator's decision.

    There wasn't any.

    Now, we're being told that the district offered the CCEA a contract that would rehire all of the laid off teachers in exchange for some concessions.

    Except the teachers had already been rehired.

    Why should ANYBODY trust the CCSD? Taxpayers should demand accountability from an organization that is incredibly top heavy, that lies to its employees and the public, and that has almost $2 Billion of OUR MONEY.
    Teachers are NOT the problem. Parents, teachers are your allies.

    It's time to demand a full, independent audit of CCSD, the Public Education Foundation, and Vegas PBS. If union members want an audit of CCEA, that is their choice (CCEA receives no taxpayer dollars)... but whether you are a conservative or liberal, pro-teacher or anti-education, we should all want an honest, open look at how CCSD is spending our dollars.

  3. What continues to trouble me is that the district wants voters to approve another bond issue to pay for much-needed repairs and technology upgrades in a number of Clark County's schools. Sadly, the superintendent and the school board trustees have engaged in just the kind of deceitful shenanigans that will encourage voters to say "NO" to the bond issue. Furthermore, I seriously doubt that teachers, especially in schools that will not benefit from the new bond issue, will be eager to assist the school district in helping get this tax increase passed. As a teacher, I understand the need for these funds, but I'm thinking I just might put on my Tea Party hat if the district is asking me to take a cut in pay AND an increase in property taxes. I don't need a double whammy thrown at me by my own employer!

  4. I am sick and tired of public employees thinking that they should be immune to the economy that is bearing down on those of us who have to pay taxes to support them!

    Yes, cuts should begin at the top at CCSD and in the admin areas, but we taxpayers simply can't afford to pay even teachers higher salaries anymore. We just don't have it!

    Public employees have to tighten their belts like we have.

  5. Boftx,

    I am sick and tired of people excluding teachers from the ranks of the taxpaying public. I pay taxes, same as you! In fact, I am paying for part of my own salary!

    I am a firm believer in you get what you pay for. If you want to "afford" less salaries, you will get teachers who are of less quality. I know some good people who left the profession simply because they couldn't afford to stay. Many of us are able to get higher paying jobs, but continue to teach because we actually care about our students and the communities in which we serve. We are sacrificing for the good of the community and the future.

    It would be nice if this community showed a little appreciation.

    As a taxpayer, I fully support raising taxes to improve our education system, whether I get a raise or not. Your parents made huge sacrifices, and so did your grandparents-- but this generation that is now in power seems to want to sacrifice nothing.

  6. Meanwhile, the 2012/13 school year is about to begin...

    and teachers are HARD AT WORK, preparing for the new year, buying their own supplies, fixing up their classrooms, doing what needs to be done...
    and the Haters hate on!

    It's a good thing that the vocal minority that you hear constantly badgering our educators and chastising them for sticking up for themselves are too weak & ineffectual to stop them from doing what's right... keep fighting the good fight!

  7. "You teachers haven't suffered enough!"...

    What kind of logic is in that statement?

    "You teachers should have NO RIGHTS when it comes to how much you're paid, or your working conditions, or whether or not you have benefits"...

    What kind of logic is in that statement?

    What kind of people ADVOCATE for such nonsense?

    What kind of people do you suppose CCSD (or ANY school district, or ANY place of employment anywhere) would attract with such mindless blather?

  8. Stopthebs, why do you care if the Union (the CCEA) has its fiscal house in order? Are you a dues paying member?

    And if you've been paying attention, teachers have been complaining about the top heaviness for years. Unfortunately, we have no say in the contract for the administrators, or CCSD's supposed need for thousands of them.

    I don't view asking taxpayers to appropriately fund the future of this city, state, and nation as playing any "cards" or going after taxpayers. Have you been in a school lately? Teachers are being asked to do more with less all the time. At my school, we still have U.S. government textbooks from 1998. Teacher computers are over 8 years old. The amount of paper available has been cut in half.

    I will guarantee you that scores will be stagnant, our economy won't grow very fast, and Nevada will look more and more like a dry Mississippi if we don't adequately fund the one thing we can do collectively to help our community: fund their education. And you know what? I bet there are more taxpayers that think like I do than you. But I suppose we'll see in November!

  9. The more education people have, they seem to lose common sense. Somehow if it dosen't come in a book or you cannot read it, then all common sense is lost. When the cash register is empty, there is NO MORE MONEY, NADA, NOTHING, ZILCH. I have found once good people quit the public sector and get off the government tit. They start realizing what the common people are talking about "Yelp COMMON SENSE" Try it you will be better people for it.

  10. Anyone who drove past a school over the past couple of weeks may have noticed an unusual number of cars parked in front, even though teachers do not officially report back to work until tomorrow. Most of the cars you saw were those of teachers who have been coming to school to prepare for the school year, and none of us have been paid a dime for the extra time we've put in. If you've happened to poke your head into a teacher supply school lately, you've likely seen long lines of teachers buying instructional materials that the district does not provide, and trust me, teachers are spending literally hundreds of dollars in these stores. Check with UNLV or any one of the several private colleges in town, and ask them if teachers have been taking classes over the summer, paying tuition that goes up, up, and up.

    Those of you who complain that teachers should "make sacrifices like everyone else" have opted to keep your head buried in the sand so that you won't see anything that might alter the ridiculous, erroneous believes you've allowed the anti-teacher, anti-union propagandists to plant in your head. Unfortunately, I find little comfort in knowing that you're wrong.

  11. I am not impressed by a $60/mo cut. I took a 50% pay cut at the start of this year, and was still laid off at the start of June as part of a cost-cutting step. (I have since found new employment just last week.) I assure you that I took *MUCH* more than a mere $60/mo cut.

    Understand this, anyone who has read my comments knows that I am a firm supporter of public education and feel it is vital to our country's survival. I also believe that CCSD is much too large, with too much money going to administration instead of where it is needed to educate our children.

    I do NOT think the district needs to spend money on more tech toys in order to teach our children how to read, write, and do basic arithmetic. You can have all the iPads in the world but if Jr. can't read it won't do him any good.

    I'll be more sympathetic to teachers when they are more sympathetic to the needs of the society that they supposedly wish to serve. Simply put, there is a great deal of difference in the attitudes of school districts and teachers today than there was when I was in school, and we are seeing the results in young adults who can't even count back change without help from a computer.

    The bottom line is this: the goal of public education is to prepare our children to be productive, responsible members of society who are capable of making rational decisions in the voting booth. It is the duty of parents to raise their children to desire this. It is the duty of teachers to do their utmost to ensure this.

    And to those public employees who say they also pay taxes and therefore pay part of their own salaries, I say you have just argued that your effective tax rate is lower than the rest of us because you get part of it back in your paycheck.

  12. Teachers seem IGNORANT that CCSD can declare the impasse continuing and DECERTIFY the teachers association. And it's clear that the teachers, or majority of them, refuse to deal with reality--the new economic reality that we all face.

  13. k-12 is broken and money will not fix it. Failure to teach generations of kids to read when they were in K-4th grade means we've DESTROYED LIVES. It is NOT ABOUT THE TEACHERS. It's about the kids. With a max of 20 students in a classroom, not that the 1:16 was raised, they MUST teach the kids to read and write or SHUT DOWN THE BRICK AND MORTAR SCHOOLS and go solely to online education.

  14. I think what everyone wants is more accountability in public education. Are the right teachers getting raises? Are the wrong ones being protected by unions? There's so little transparency that it's no wonder that we as a nation continue to lose confidence in public education (http://bit.ly/LmszmU), despite the fact that we continue to pour more and more money into it. Union leadership prevents positive changes from happening. Even Steve Jobs was quoted as saying that until teachers unions can be "broken," there is "almost no hope for education reform" (taken from Jobs' biography).

  15. Thanks BOTX and stopthebs. I know I repeat myself, but we must force public "servants" to get the heads out of the sand and deal with reality. We the taxpayers have had enough. "Accountability" won't due--let's try pay for performance--base pay for getting results--the same results we received routinely in the 50's, 60's, 70's.... Kids that can read and write. Kids that were treated well in school. Parents and taxpayers that are respected and treated as contributing members of society, not as brain dead fountains of golden tax revenue to fritter away unproductively.
    psst: Phil. It should not take 24/7 from all of us to get good K-12 results. If the "educators" can't figure out how to get back to basics and DO THEIR JOB, FIRE THEM.

  16. Not true Tanker, once again. My parents did NOTHING to encourage their five kids attend school. And there were many friends and associates who had no parental involvement.

  17. Roslenda,

    Once again, you are incorrect. CCSD can not simply decertify the union. That could only happen if CCEA membership drops below 50% of licensed staff... Which at the moment isn't going to happen. I would respectfully ask that you refrain from calling an entire group of people "ignorant", especially since you have no earthly idea what you are talking about.

    You want "results" like the 50s? In 1952, only 7% of American high school students took the SAT. Over 1.5 million students took the SAT this year, and almost the same number took the ACT-- out of a little over 3 million high school seniors (around 50%). For better or for worse, we are expecting a lot more from our students now than before: to take math up through pre-calculus, science through physics, etc, while the standards before we're much, much less. In 1952, the literacy rate in the U.S was an impressive 97.5%. Today, it is over 99%. The percentage of all school aged children who graduated from high school in 1950 was 34 percent; today, it is 80 percent.

    In short, we are sending more students to college than ever before, and we are educating students who just over a half century ago would go uneducated. A beginning teacher in the 1950s was paid about $4300, or about $31700 today. So, in other words, even after all the gains we have made in the past 60 years, the starting teacher salaries haven't budged.

    So by all means, let's go back to the 50s, when those at the margins of society weren't educated. Oh, and our national rankings reflect the fact that we educate almost everyone with the goal of attending post secondary education, while most countries do not.

  18. Roslenda...

    Your ignorance is astounding.

  19. Matt: I support teachers that perform, whether or not they "care." I support a FAIR compensation package and FAIR disciplinary procedures. I do NOT support guaranteed employment with or without tenure. gmag and others see only black or white and don't recognize greys and shades of gray let alone other colors. K-12 is not working. Fix is fast or end it.
    For those who don't bother to read and consider: I've spent some years "administering" K-12 in Nevada. Clearly, I oppose the excessive compensation of teachers and administrators and the excessive numbers of teachers and administrators. I support GOOD schools with GOOD staff. There have always been and always will be some parents who don't care or unable to put the time into supervising their kids school work. K-12 MUST DEAL WITH IT. I am an example of a student who was NOT a problem despite severe neglect and abuse. Teachers did NOTHING for my situation. Sure, they graded me reasonably well but only after it was so obvious that I was out-performing my peers. In 4th grade they had me in the "slow learners" reader section--although I had read all the books in the school library, thru grade 6. One teacher even tried to tell me I couldn't check out books from that part of the library. However, at the public library, one librarian noticed me coming in repeatedly and suggested I look upstairs in the adult sections--I never went back downstairs. This is why I insist: we must teach them to read before grade 4.

  20. Zetz: I'm NOT TALKING 50'S. I'm talking up forever and ever until current mess ups. In the 20's and 30's kids were taught to read--although they missed a lot of class to harvest the grain. As mentioned above, there ALWAYS was and always will be some percentage of parents who can't or won't participate. And, we have Arizona results to show that ESL is NOT the issue. CCSD can't seem to get the teachers INTO THE CLASS ROOMS. Too many trainer days, too many meetings, too much networking. Lengthen the school day and the school year until you get the results necessary--and no increase in pay UNTIL you get results.

  21. Roslenda:

    In your post on August 22 at 1:17, you mention the results in the "50's, 60's, 70's...", so you were clearly indicating you *were* talking about the 50s.

    OK, so 20s and 30s? The literacy level (or, learning to read and write) in 1920 was 94% (compared to 99%), and that included an embarrassing 77% literacy rate for African Americans (http://nces.ed.gov/naal/lit_history.asp). I also doubt that the children who are being taught to read and write would be much help "harvesting the grain". Have you actually been to a farm? How much help would an 8 year old be? The answer is not much, especially back in the 20s and 30s where it was a lot more manual instead of mechanical labor.

    And as far as Arizona, looking at their NAEP results (http://nces.ed.gov/programs/stateprofile...) shows that Nevada and Arizona have similar scores, and Nevada even has some HIGHER scores than Arizona.

    And how do you know how much time a teacher is in the classroom? Do you work at a school? Have you done a study on how much time "trainer days, meetings, and networking" take up? I'd guess not.

    Keep the propaganda flowing, and I'll continue to use FACTS to prove you wrong!

  22. jzetz: My point is still that teaching reading is NOT rocket science. We've been doing this for centuries with great success. It is only the last few decades where "SCHOOLS" have failed to teach reading, although true that there has been a degradation through time--perhaps related or directly proportional to the quality / intelligence level of recruits.
    Yes, I've been to the farm and 8 year old kids were expected to work--just like today in family-operated businesses. As it happens, my grand mother taught school in a rural setting and used to comment on how bad attendance was during harvest.
    Never said I was a professional "teacher" although I have certification. As I said, I've worked in "administering" K-12 in Nevada--I've been in many of your classrooms. And p.s., I'm not trying to threaten or intimidate the teachers who are not "trusted" commentators here. But I would suggest that many of those commentators such as yourself are reckless with words and short on thought and insight.

  23. Reckless? How exactly am I being reckless? Is it because I don't agree with you? And I am a "trusted" commenter.

    I will have you know that I respect your opinion-- no matter how ignorant I feel that it is. You are entitled to it. I just wish you would back up what you say by something more than personal observations. You have made this personal by attacking me personally (calling me short on thought and insight) instead of providing evidence showing me that I am wrong. I would suggest that people who make accusations and state opinions without providing evidence to back up those positions are the ones being reckless.

    99% of all teachers are hard working, caring individuals who do great work. Education is not an individual effort: it takes the parents, teachers, and students. Very rarely do you see a student succeed without the support of two of the three. You can not fix our education problems by simply degrading the work that teachers do. While I am first to admit that there needs to be some reform, the current "reforms" aren't helping.

    While I may be a very important part of a student's education, I am by no means the only part of the puzzle. I can't magically make a kid care about their education, or have their parents show up for a parent teacher conference. What I can do is what I am doing: working 10-12 hour days every day of the school year to help my students learn (and to help me become a better educator).

    So, if you want to call me "reckless", go ahead. If you want to claim I'm "short on thought and insight", go ahead. But I will not stop standing up for the hardworking teachers of Clark County who deserve praise instead of scorn. I will not simply sit here idly by and let you bully teachers-- without providing a single fact to support your claims. My point is simple: good policy comes from a civil discussion of differing views and compromise. You seem to be interested in neither.

  24. Short on thought and insight: unable and/or unwilling to see another point of view. Me / self centric without regard for the students. It's just about money, money, money and teachers, teachers, teachers. psst Fan: I didn't say "was a CCSD administrator." Why can't you deal with the content and not "have to" blame or accuse someone based on what you think about your job? Many, many taxpayers are NOT teachers and are no longer willing to write you a blank check. And where on earth would you get the idea that a class room teacher would be the one to DECIDE on the budget or policy? Ever hear of supporting your supervisors, chain of command, organizational structure. If you'd rather teachers DECIDED, maybe we should first consider what STUDENTS would decide--what would work for them.