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September 20, 2014

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Clark County School District might sue union about negotiations

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Dwight Jones, the Clark County School Superintendent, is photographed in his office Thursday, January 20, 2011.

Strained contract negotiations between the financially beleaguered Clark County School District and the teachers union may end up in court, with management saying union leadership is bargaining in bad faith because of its unbending demands.

In June, the district declared an impasse in negotiations, sending the contract matter into arbitration. The district and union are now choosing an arbitrator who will decide between the their proposals for concessions.

Just like last year, the cash-strapped district wants teachers to agree to a one-year salary freeze to help erase a $64 million deficit, and the union is fighting to preserve teachers’ annual pay raises.

“I can’t pay for raises that I can’t afford,” Clark County Schools Superintendent Dwight Jones said, adding that the district has cut more than $500 million since the recession. “I don’t know how much more we can cut.”

Part of those cuts included the elimination of more than 1,000 teaching positions this summer, including 419 actual teachers in the classroom. The other 600 scrapped positions were unfilled.

After four months of negotiations, the district and the union in late July zeroed in on how to bring back those 419 laid-off teachers. The district said it needed $22 million in concessions from the union, which the union said could be achieved through mandatory unpaid time off versus an across-the-board pay freeze for a year.

The district asked for four furlough days and the union pushed for two before settling on three furlough days.

The union agreed to deliver the proposal to its members at its back-to-school meeting on Monday, according to Jones and district negotiator Edward Goldman. The meeting was closed to the media.

In an email to the district this month, the union’s executive director and chief negotiator, John Vellardita, said the union would neither recommend nor oppose the deal to teachers — but said the negotiation committee reserved the right to comment on it.

District officials — pointing to a Las Vegas Review-Journal account of the meeting — said that’s not what happened. Vellardita reportedly told union members to vote against the furloughs, Goldman said.

Meeting attendees — who included union and non-union members — “overwhelmingly” rejected the proposal, according to a union news release sent Monday night. The exact vote was not revealed.

Top district leaders were floored. Months of back-and-forth negotiations went down the drain and Vellardita went back on his word, Goldman said.

“You negotiate with these particular union bosses, and it’s all for naught,” Goldman said. “It’s frustrating.”

The School District may file a bad-faith bargaining lawsuit against the union with the state’s Employee Management Relations Board, Goldman said.

Vellardita said his comments against the furlough came after 40 teachers made their public comments about the proposal. All 40 teachers were against it, he said, adding it illustrated how his members were planning to vote.

Besides, Vellardita said, the furlough proposal no longer makes sense because the School District has invited back all 419 laid-off teachers, to fill vacancies in the district created by more retirements and resignations than the district anticipated. As a result, there is no longer a need for teachers to make contract concessions, Vellardita said.

But Jones points out that while the 419 laid-off teachers are being rehired, they are not filling their old jobs. With the loss of 1,000 positions that will still be unfilled, the average class size when school opens next week will increase by three students, Jones said.

If the teachers were to agree to the furlough days — or accept a pay freeze for one year — some of the 1,000 trimmed teaching jobs could be filled and class sizes could be lowered, Jones said. (The district's other three major unions have accepted two-year pay freezes.)

“Kids deserve better,” Jones said. “If we don’t solve this (contract) problem, then the kids suffer.”

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  1. I guess I'm confused . . . they have no where to cut? Perhaps they can stop all those out of town trips? The admin seems to do a lot of traveling - maybe they can use technology? In just the pieces of the budget I can see - there are many budget items that are not directly helping students - let's work on that first. No more extra special admin expenses. It's hard to convince people you need money - when you publicly seem to be spending so much.

    I guess I'm even more confused . . . because 400 teachers including my friends were called back to work PLUS 350 teachers were NEWLY hired. That seems like a lot for the district to hire, just such a SHORT time after they were demanding concessions because of layoffs. One day we will never make the budget - the next day we rehire/hire 750 teachers? How can that be?

    Am I the only one that seems to be thinking - someone keeps calling WOLF. But there is no WOLF.

    I want to believe they have my best interest in mind - but what they are actually DOING is screaming so loud, I can't hear what they say. People are figuring out this cruel game. Teachers want to be treated fairly.

    Please let's get back to making plans and connections to create a more balanced revenue funding for Clark County Schools. CCSD could be a force in asking for an adjustment in the funding disparity in this state - the Nevada Plan - which unfairly pays more to every other district in this state. Vegas is shorted financially in every way by the Nevada Plan. This will help everyone in the district - instead of being so focused on union-busting tactics - which help a few . . . but it will NEVER help teachers or students.

  2. Go for it CCSD. Salary freeze is NOT ENOUGH. We must have CUTS IN COMPENSATION. Absolutely ridiculous that average teacher comp is $74K and maxes out about $96K for 7-hour days, 184 days versus the real world of 8-10 hour days, for 245 days. 50th in results but 24th in pay? TIME FOR CHANGE.

  3. Angie, the "Nevada plan" has long been complimented by the feds and national media as excellent. Further, if we took total dsa divided by all students state-wide, CCSD portion would go up maybe $3-$5 a student. It's not worth the media hype you're trying to generate. Courts have long held that the State has an obligation to rural areas--even to the point of building their schools--so you really don't want to go there. A legal settlement would probably result in LESS funding for CCSD so a few million could be pulled out of dsa for replacing school buildings that are more than 80 YEARS OLD.

  4. Hey Teach. CAN you read the writing on the wall? You might use some un-common sense and try to establish civil communications with taxpayers, parents, administrators. We will decide your future, like it or not. Intimidation and bullying have you painted into corners.

  5. cnev: CCSD is looking for GOOD teachers in science, math, learning disabled, probably a few for advanced placement classes. Clearly the "average" teacher won't do. And perhaps CCSD administrators know that some of the new teachers are not going to be offered renewal. We need GOOD teachers with some versatility and ability, and we need teachers who want to teach, not those who want to foment anarchy. Compliments to the dedicated teachers who DO THEIR JOB and EARN their pay.

  6. Roslenda...

    Nobody is paying any attention.

  7. The demands by the Teachers Union is the primary reason I am voting against the special property tax that CCSD wants for what they say is maintenance and repair of facilities, plus building two new schools. The problem is, I doubt the money would ever go for the intended purpose as it would be diverted to the general fund to pay teachers and raises. The CCSD has used the past money for maintenance for everything but maintenance it appears. No planning, just passing out raises, etc. The Taxpayers need some sort of guarantee that new taxes won't go to salaries and benefits. No Arbatrator should be able to take the property tax money for maintenance or money from the State's allocated funds for maintenance and use it for pay and benefits.

  8. The legislature needs to require that all contracts with the unions be released to the public. Since these contracts are authorizing the expenditure of public funds, we the public should be able to review the contracts so we can advise our elected officials to our opinions.

    Until the public is able to comment on the contracts before the elected officials vote on them, I can not support any increase in funding for any form of Government.

  9. Why won't they answer my question? What is it that teachers spend thousands of thousands of dollars for in the class room? The kids don't get any of it--no pencils or paper handed out.... Must be just another hype by those teachers who think they are still the center of the universe.

    Mark and Army: so glad to see some other rational posts here. Cnev: Perhaps CCSD is facing reality, unlike many teachers, and PREPARING for a LOCKOUT.

  10. Comment posted by Tanker 1975 reveals that, "There are two phone books listed on the CCSD website. The first is the administrative phone book. . After you remove the duplicate names, there are 2072 people listed with a total salary and benefits for 2011 of over 170 MILLION. That is 10% of the projected budget for 2012-2013 school year. Not one name in the list is a teacher.

    The second phone book is the school directory. It lists the principals, assistant principals, deans and office managers for every school. There are 1096 names on that list with a salary and benefits package for 2011 of 110 MILLION. CCSD spends over 16% of the 2012-2013 personnel budget on less than 8% of the employees.

    If you total the number of directors and coordinators in the administrative phone book, you can replace every high school principal, assistant principal, and dean as well as every middle school assistant principals and dean. Yes, there are almost 350 with the title of director or coordinate that do NOT deal with students.

    If you total all of the administrative personnel in both phone books, you get a teacher to administrator ratio of just over 13 to 1 for CCSD."

    Tanker 1975 is dealing with straight facts, for what they are.

    Blessings and Peace,
    Star

  11. Jeff, I'm not bitterly against teachers. (Haven't you seen my posts elsewhere and wasn't it me, about 2 years ago, that told the Commission to Cut Compensation?) I'm adamantly in favor of getting what the taxpayer is paying for--and K-12 hasn't delivered in years. It is clear that our economy says we've taxed out more than enough. We must restore respect for the self reliant and REDUCE GOVERNMENT. We cannot afford to have a teacher for every 15 illegal anchor babies AND maintain SS / Medicare. Our economy cannot support American welfare AND pay for all of the third world that wants to move in. It is not the teachers that entice the illegals to keep coming here but they fail to recognize simple algebra. 15 million illegals plus all the kids they can create added to our welfare systems, added to our schools, added to our black market is too much weight.