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November 28, 2014

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Teachers take protests to superintendent’s office

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Paul Takahashi

About 100 teachers rallied at the Clark County School District administration building on West Sahara Avenue to protest potential layoffs and working conditions on Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2012.

Teachers Rally at Admin Building

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About 100 teachers rallied in front of the Clark County School District administration building Wednesday afternoon, protesting proposed pay freezes and potential layoffs.

Hoisting signs that read “Honk for Teachers” and yelling slogans such as “Hey, ho. Don’t let our teachers go,” members of the local teachers union again sought attention to their prolonged contract fight with the district, now going on seven months.

In recent weeks, the Clark County Education Association has packed School Board meetings at the Edward Greer Education Center, near East Flamingo Road and McLeod Drive, to air teachers’ grievances to School Board members and district officials.

On Wednesday, the union gathered its members for the first time this school year at the School District’s main administration building on West Sahara Avenue, which houses the offices of the superintendent and other top school officials.

The union wanted to take its message straight to the top, union President Ruben Murillo said.

“We want the public to know there’s a disconnect in what the district sees and what our teachers see,” he said. “Our teachers are drowning in work, and now they’re threatened with layoffs and increased class sizes. This has got to stop.”

The teachers’ chants and calls would fall on deaf ears however, as Clark County Schools Superintendent Dwight Jones was off-site, according to a district spokeswoman.

Nevertheless, teachers rallied in front of the administration building for about an hour and a half, eliciting honks from passing cars. About five School District police officers guarded the gleaming building, which some teachers took to calling the “Pink Palace.” Formally the headquarters of Harrah’s Entertainment, the district administration building now stands as a remnant of Las Vegas’ gilded age.

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Brinley Middle School teacher Deenene Armstrong holds up a sign during a teachers union rally at the Clark County School District administration building on Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2012. About 100 teachers rallied at the West Sahara building to protest potential layoffs and working conditions.

The cash-strapped School District and its beleaguered teachers union are undergoing arbitration after contract negotiations failed in August. To plug a $39 million budget gap this year, and another $39 million next year, the School District is seeking concessions from its teachers.

Proposed concessions include freezing salary and step increases, lowering salaries to pay for pension cost increases and changing the teachers’ health insurance provider from the nonprofit Teachers Health Trust to a private insurer.

Without the concessions, officials say the School District will be forced to find cuts elsewhere. Jones warned school principals in December that 1,000 teacher jobs could be shed if the union prevails in arbitration. The layoffs may increase class sizes by three or four students, school and union officials said.

“Everything we’ve been doing is trying to keep teachers in classrooms,” School District spokeswoman Amanda Fulkerson said, eyeing the crowd of chanting teachers. “We want to hold pay where it is, and keep teachers in classrooms. The union wants raises, and force us to cut teachers.”

As the ongoing arbitration fight rages on, teachers like Kelly Kelley, 33, say they are fed up. The Hyde Park Middle School math teacher rallied Wednesday with her 5-month-old son and 14-year-old daughter, a Rancho High School freshman.

Kelley, a 1996 Bonanza High School graduate, said she is concerned about the ramifications of teacher layoffs on already-expanding class sizes. Her daughter’s geometry class is currently pushing upwards of 50 students — the teachers won’t be able to handle additional students, she said.

With looming layoffs, Kelley is worried. How is she to pay off $92,000 in student debt with a $42,000 salary? How will she provide adequate health insurance for her family? Morale is low, stress is high among teachers, she said.

“I teach because I love my students,” she said. “I shouldn’t have to constantly wonder if I have a job.”

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  1. well how about we cut some of the over paid administrators. they are not the ones teaching. but their salary's are much more than teachers.

  2. Something is very very wrong with anyplace that would suffer such a devastating financial crisis - and have leadership turnaround and blame teachers. Really, a teacher has caused these problems? A teacher who has power ONLY over the children in her classroom. How exactly did I caused anything?

    Something is very very wrong with a CCSD spokesperson implying or directly stating that any teacher is causing another teacher to lose their job. That is a lie. If the district fires a teacher - it is the district that fired them. I don't hire or fire anyone.

    Let me be clear. I did not create this financial crisis. I do not make decisions about how to manage the district or the state or the city. I did not mismanage anything to the point that I had to tell 1,000 teachers they might not have a job at Christmastime. I did not waste taxpayer money at any time.

    I do teach people to read. I do show up and have for years to do my job. I do go back to school on a regular basis to learn and to become better and better at my job. I have been at this since 1990 and donated time and money well beyond what is required at most jobs to my students and my schools. I am not a criminal and I don't like anyone suggesting I hurt anyone by asking for fair pay and fair working conditions.

    I signed a contract - the district promised me a fair pay. I'm sorry if someone mismanaged the funds and cannot cover the costs. I would strongly suggest that instead of blaming the people in the classroom - the school board ask for outside help to evaluate how poorly things have been financially run and to be able to more efficiently manage the money and save for a rainy day.

  3. I am moving something Tanker1975 stated, to encourage some thought:
    ""What does a teacher make?" A teacher makes a young reader rush home to share the first book they ever read without a grown-ups help. A teacher helps instill a life-long love of reading, exploring the world without leaving home.

    "What does a teacher make?" A teacher shows students that history is not the memorization of dates, places and people. It is looking at what was, what is, and what may be because of the past. It opens the child to understand how we got to where we are today.

    "What does a teacher make?" A teacher makes a child understand that writing is not OMG and BFF. Writing is the expression of an idea, a concept, a telling of a story, it is the joy of creating something that belongs to them alone.

    "What does a teacher make?" A teacher helps a student to understand that science is not theoretical, but is real and practical. It is why a car moves, why a plant looks the way it does, and how animals and plants interact to make the world a place to live in.

    "What does a teacher make?" A teacher shows a student that math is not a mystery of symbols and numbers. Math is the study of patterns and relationships that allow the development of new ideas and technology. Students will learn that math impacts every aspect of a student's life. Mastery of math allows a student to open the potential of the future.

    "What does a teacher make?" A teacher makes a child try to do something that they didn't think they could do. A teacher encourages the child to try, picks them up, dusts them off and encourages them to try again when they don't succeed. A teacher celebrates with the child when they achieve their goal and tastes success.

    "What does a teacher make?" Teachers make the future!
    What do you make?"

    Please remember: teachers are NOT the district's decision makers---the School Board and Administrators are solely responsible for any school district/school site decision. They dutifully manage what the taxpaying citizens entrust to them.

    Blessings and Peace,
    Star