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School District, teachers union at an impasse

Updated Thursday, Aug. 11, 2011 | 6:08 p.m.

Teachers union negotiations break down

KSNV coverage of breakdown in contract negotiations between the Clark County School District and the teachers union, Aug. 10, 2011.

At least 500 teacher positions hang in the balance as contract negotiations between the Clark County School District and its teachers union broke down Wednesday, likely sending the matter to arbitration.

The Clark County Education Association declared an impasse Wednesday night after it couldn’t broker an agreement with the School District during its four scheduled meetings. Formal negotiations began in July.

State law requires the district to have at least four meetings with each of its four unions, which represent administrators, support staff, police and teachers, before an impasse can be declared. If no compromise is reached, the matter may go to arbitration, where a judge decides the outcome of contract negotiations.

The School District is seeking $37 million in concessions from the teachers union to balance its budget. The district’s proposed concessions include freezing step increases, having employees pay half of a Public Employees’ Retirement System rate increase and replacing the nonprofit Teachers Health Trust and Retiree Health Trust with a for-profit carrier, according to the union. (In July, the School District lowered salaries by 1.125 percent to pay for the pension rate increase.)

The district warned in late June that 800 teacher positions might be eliminated in September if union concessions weren’t reached. The cuts would be on top of about 600 central office positions already slated for elimination.

“We are very disappointed the Clark County School District is seeking to balance their budget at the expense of those who spend their lives educating the children of Nevada,” union President Ruben Murillo said in a statement. “The parties will now prepare for interest arbitration.”

The School District, which usually doesn't comment on ongoing negotiations and arbitrations, issued a statement Thursday afternoon titled "Negotiations require shared sacrifice."

The statement from the district's chief negotiator, Edward Goldman, criticized the union for refusing to make concessions "in spite of ample evidence of a bleak economy and a decreased K-12 budget."

"We have to cut a total of $150 million from this year's budget, and the concessions we're asking from the teachers total less than one-fourth of that amount," Goldman said. "We have made cuts throughout the district to reduce the concessions teachers must make."

The district faces two options to balance its budget: Head into arbitration to resolve contract negotiations or eliminate 800 teacher positions, according to a district spokesman.

If the matter goes to arbitration, it may take until November for the arbitrator’s decision to be made, Murillo said Thursday. In the meantime, teachers will continue to work.

“Our teachers are under extreme pressure,” he said. “Working conditions are very difficult now.”

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  1. What? Wait...freezing step increases? ALREADY DONE! Having employees pay half of a Public Employees' Retirement System rate increase? ALREADY DONE (check July's paystub)! So 2 out of 3 of the negotiable items have already occured. All that's left is the health care issue.

  2. I dont understand all the teacher hatred. There must be a million better villains to hate in this country.

  3. It isn't the hate of teachers, it is the hate that they refuse to stand up to the union and say, "We hate the fact that more money does not end up going directly to the class room and teachers, that so much of it is tapped for administration, that a secretary makes $90,000 per year, that there are maintenance people making more than teachers, that the union reps make more than those they represent, and that they refuse to mark bad teachers, and help remove them."

    We have always placed value and respect for our teachers. The problem we have is "bad teachers" and how they are protected, and GOOD and GREAT teachers are content to allow this to continue, allow those that want to complain, haul kids out in front of the media to state a cut may happen in "theater". We know who our good teachers are, and we want them to make more money than others in the district that are NOT teachers or not so good teachers. It is sad when you are afraid to stand up and say, "this child is not prepared for my class because of the teacher the child had last year, or because there is a lack of supervision by all the administration that has been placed to administer. Teachers, you know the problems, you are front and center, help us fix it. We want you there...we want our kids learning and experiencing what good there is.

  4. I'm a teacher and am terrified about losing the health insurance that I current have. No doubt if CCSD is able to get rid of it they will not supplement my pay for whatever plan they put us on. There is no way I would be able to afford monthly payments for health insurance for the plans they have on the table, some are almost $400 out of pocket every month. So many teachers will be in the same position as me. It will cause so many more sick days to be taken, which means it would cost more in the end for the school district. We've already given so much, our health insurance is all that is left.

  5. PARENTS are the FIRST AND FOREMOST TEACHER of a child. Make no mistake. They can send their child to a public school for further education, but ULTIMATELY, that parent, is RESPONSIBLE for that child, from cradle to grave.

    Sadly, most parents have/had little to no contact with their child's teacher(s) at school. Oh, there's the mandated yearly "Parent/Teacher Conference" for maybe 15-30 minutes. Your child will only benefit as much as YOU are willing to be INVOLVED!!! Please get involved, get to know your teacher(s), visit, invite them to your home, talk and have conversations, work together, and as you can, have fun together! There are plenty of opportunities! School activities with PTA or festivals, assemblies, parades, and celebrations, are happy times to get together. Facebook, email,text message, do whatever you both agree to do in the interest of that child's betterment throughout the year(s); you might even have a friend for life! (be sure to sign required district releases)

    Teachers spend out of their own pockets to help provide for their students, plan,dream, and think daily about how to excite children in school with new lessons, and they fill their spare time will educating themselves with professional development courses towards better instructional delivery and relicensure.

    Believe that homework is there to assist your child to become BETTER with their skills! It is NOT busy work. If your child is struggling, then contact your child's teacher, and discuss WHY that is going on, there is a REASON.

    IF the public noticed the pay scale recently, only those at the top are getting GREAT pay and benefits, just look up the Clark County School District School District Supt. & Asst. Supt., and Board Members, and keep looking at administration, and you will see who, not what, is collecting some BIG $$$$. Everyone else has been frozen, even though they were PROMISED that IF they continued credits, they would be get a nominal pay increase per credit. People are upset about THIS as well.

    Ultimately, PARENTS have the CONTROL and POWER.
    A Teacher is just another worker who really needs a parent's support! If PARENTS AND FAMILIES all got out there and began speaking up, there would definitely be change!

  6. "Replacing the non-profit Teachers Health Trust and Retiree Health Trust with a for-profit carrier." This looks like a system for potential political corruption and should not be a "district" decision.
    Teachers should not have tenure and should be measured and bonused by the results in their classes on a moving average.
    A reasonable Class Size, Pay and Benefits, Non Hostile Work Environment, Class Spending Allowance, etc. should be guaranteed to all Teachers. With minimal interference from the Staff.
    Students should be expected to do their work and behave. Respect of the Students and the Teachers should be Key. A Failure by Students to participate in their betterment or by Teachers to be Proactive in their Teaching Methods should result in a review about the future of the individual in a school environment.
    Students unwilling to participate in their educational growth or long term behaivor problems, should become the Parents Problem with no absolute right to an education.
    You should not be able to complete K-12 and still be an Idiot unable to take on the rigors of College or Life.

  7. Truly, we live in a time where there are options in education. IF you are so unhappy with one style (the current public education classroom model), then find another shoe that is a better fit! Here in Las Vegas, for YEARS, it has been advertised other methods, why haven't some of you tried those?

    YOU are RESPONSIBLE for the education that YOU get. No one else. YOU own it. You own YOUR life.

    The problem we have in this country, is one where the people lack being RESPONSIBLE.

    It is far easier(maybe less expensive) to entrust Dick or Jane to Public School, Kindergarten to Grade 12, than to hassle with them with INDEPENDENT STUDY, INTERNET SCHOOL, HOME SCHOOL, or PRIVATE SCHOOL until they graduate schooling.

    Being RESPONSIBLE is tough. And that is a major problem we face here in Clark County, in our community, as well as in our country, the United States of America!

  8. Well, honestly, the teachers did get a 15 percent pay hike when the recession started....

  9. Hopefully the teachers in Clark County and the School District can come to some sort of a compromise. It's unfortunate, but all over the country you're seeing unions try to fight back against the imminent threat of layoffs. In Milwaukee (where this issue is a hotbed) hundreds of teachers were laid off because Governor Walker's new legislation couldn't be put in place thanks to a previously negotiated union contract ( In Connecticut you saw unions vote to plunder their own workforce to keep from compromising on their contracts (

    It's unfortunate because thanks to collective bargaining, compensation for state and local employees is a fundamentally flawed system. Unions and Politicians often have a reciprocal relationship. Take Teachers Unions. Taken together, the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association have been the nation's leading political donors in federal elections over the past two decades. Teachers' unions are either number one or number two in terms of political giving in 60% (including Wisconsin) of US states (

    Thanks to this relationship unions negotiate contracts that lead to state and local employees having a total compensation package that far outstrips those found it the private sector (

    If compensation could be brought back to fair levels, we wouldn't be forced to lose so many good teachers when budget shortfalls inevitably surface. Unfortunately, until more people come to understand the discrepancy, we're bound for more situations like the one in Clark County.

  10. "Well, honestly, the teachers did get a 15 percent pay hike when the recession started...."

    Mr. Gibbons, If you could point out to me on my paycheck a 15% raise, I will happily write a one thousand dollar check to the charity of your choice...

    Time to put up or shut the #### up...

  11. Gosh!! Why dont all those teachers, and their stupid unions stop whining so much, and just accept the fact that the government needs to cut back on spending. There are a lot of good teachers, but there are probably a lot of worthless teachers that can just be let go, such as gym teachers. Maybe the school district could also trim some of the administration too. Another waste of money is CCSD having it's own police force. They could turn that over to the real police. Maybe hire some security guys to be on hand to respond to immediate incidents.

  12. No one should be surprised that negotiations between CCSD and CCEA broke down. It is more accurate to say that those negotiations were pro-forma, conducted to meet the terms necessary for arbitration. CCEA had strong support from its membership to refuse any more concessions to the District. CCSD knew full well that teachers were not going along with the new Sup's plan and started prepping for arbitration long ago by selective use of media and lining up counsel. An arbitrator's decision can often be a winning scenario for everyone.....blame any fallout on an unelected, overpaid, ignorant [add more adjectives describing your bias] arbitrator who screwed you, them, the public, the whatever.

    Could this have been avoided? Probably not, but it could have been handled much better. The new Sup has done precious little to work with teachers or other line staff, preferring to hang with his homies in administration. There is no argument from anyone that CCSD is in desperate need of a turn-around specialist to describe a vision of student success and provide a framework to achieve that success. If you look at any successful turn-around, private or public, you will note that a critical element is engagement and support of stakeholders. Ten years ago Apple was a basket case, now it is the most highly valued [and some say undervalued] company in the world. How did they manage that? How did Ford avoid bankruptcy and now builds some of the top cars and trucks in the world? How does the Social Security Administration operate on a 3% administrative margin? They all have leadership promoting a team orientation and they focus on their customers and they treat their employees well. It's not just a matter of calling everyone "associates" and putting out feel-good press releases. It takes a huge amount of work and a genuine desire to effect change. I have not seen any desire to do so on the part of CCSD administration.

  13. Joe you do make stuff up...quite frequently. I even posted a US Bureau of Labor Statistics survey of teachers on the subject.

    Your 2600 number is simply absurd. In order to achieve that you would have to work 11 horus a day 7 days a week throughout the entire school year. That would put you out on the 99th percentile of all teachers...asuming you actually taught, which you likely did not (given all the other jobs you claimed you did as well).

  14. Make your check out to the Friedman Foundation for Education Choice.

    For a year 7 teacher the pay jump went from 10 percent to 16 percent depending on classification. Additionally the max steps was decreased from 16 to 14 years meaning teachers could max out more quickly (more money, plus getting the more money more quickly).

  15. Aw c'mon, Pat! Really? "Your 2600 number is simply absurd. In order to achieve that you would have to work 11 horus a day 7 days a week throughout the entire school year." What about all the time that teachers spend working on stuff during the summer months? Or do you think we hop a flight on the last day of school to Maui, where we shuttle over to the secret "teacher resort" for the entire summer? I know that for many teachers 10 hour days during the school year is the norm. Add in coaching or sponsoring a student organization like National Honor Society, and your weekends are frequently taken up as well. I have been teaching for 18 years, and I have NEVER logged less than 2000 hours of work per year (paid and unpaid). It's just part of the job.

  16. Patrick doesn't really know anything about teachers. He gets his data from "research." Please ignore him.