Las Vegas Sun

April 26, 2015

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Arbitrator sides with School District in $10 million pay dispute

The Clark County School District’s budget woes were slightly eased by an arbitration ruling Wednesday that allows the district to lower teacher salaries by 1.125 percent to pay for increased pension plan contributions.

Arbitrator Claude Dawson Ames’ decision — part of a larger arbitration hearing between the School District and its teachers union over teacher contracts — will save the district $10 million, district spokeswoman Amanda Fulkerson said.

The district is facing a $39 million budget deficit in each of the next two years.

With the average teacher earning $73,974 — including benefits — the savings from the arbitration decision equates to about 135 teacher positions. If the remaining $29 million budget deficit isn’t resolved, however, hundreds of teacher positions could be cut starting next school year.

“...We are still far from having a balanced budget,” Clark County Schools Superintendent Dwight Jones said in a statement. “I remain optimistic that we can continue productive conversation with CCEA on maintaining current salaries and keeping teachers in the classroom.”

In the fiscal year that began July 1, public employees faced a 2.25 percent increase in their annual contribution to the state’s retirement plan.

State law mandates that the increase to the Public Employees Retirement System be shared equally between employers and employees — in this case, 1.125 percent each.

Because employee salaries are subject to collective bargaining, the School District asked its unions — administrators, teachers, support staff and police — to pay for half the increase through a voluntary salary reduction.

While the other bargaining units agreed, the Clark County Education Association refused to go along. The School District filed suit in April 2011, stating its intent to abide by state law if the district and its teachers union couldn’t come to an agreement.

The School District unilaterally began lowering teacher salaries in July 2011 to help pay for the pension cost increase. The teachers union declared impasse in contract negotiations the following month and filed an unfair labor practice grievance against the School District.

According to a statement by the union, the Employee Management Relations Board has yet to rule on the union’s unfair labor practices suit. A union-favored ruling by the board could bring the PERS issue back to the bargaining table, union spokeswoman Letty Elias said.

The School District is still seeking $29 million in concessions from the teachers union to balance its budget.

The proposed concessions include freezing salary step and education increases and establishing furlough days. Changing the nonprofit Teachers Health Trust to a for-profit health insurance company is off the table.

A second arbitration decision over the district’s contract with its teachers union is expected late next month or in early May. The district’s other unions have settled their contracts.

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  1. Why is it taking so long for the second arbitration decision to be made? Teachers have been told that any increases they received will be taken in one lump sum if the arbitrator rules in favor of the school district. That means that potentially, some teachers will not receive a paycheck at all, a disaster in this economy when people are literally living paycheck to paycheck. Quit fooling around and make up your damn mind!

  2. Excellent decision. Another brick crumbles in the pampered public sector.

    Actually, "educators" should be just fine with this decision, since it's all about the kids, right? After all, this will save jobs of many young teachers -- the same ones union members tried to throw under the bus -- and probably result in lower class sizes.

    That makes this a win-win proposition for taxpayers!

  3. They already have the money. When did teachers become the enemy? Hitler made educators the enemy as well. Look at the ignorance and hostility built up in that country -creating World War II and the attempted annihilation of an entire race. Our country has become ignorant and racist over the past twenty years. It amazes me how ignorant. When teachers become the enemies of the people we are in some serious trouble.

  4. This whole $39 million budget "hole" is pure malarkey. The 2011-2012 school year is nearly over, and the district is still functioning just fine. Bills are getting paid, Dwight Jones is still collecting his $1,000 a day salary, and he's even found the money to hire a $500 a day p.r. goon.

    Yet the district insists on taking money out of teachers pockets through unilateral salary reductions in direct violation of a valid and legally binding (at least supposedly) contract.

    Hey Las Vegas Sun, instead of parroting the old "average" teacher's earnings (including benefits, of course) yet again, why don't you turn your scrutiny on the administrative overhead that eats up a significant portion of the CCSD budget?

    You want to talk about wasteful spending in CCSD? Let's look at the elementary schools in this district with 3 or 4 principals, each taking home nearly $100K in salary alone, not including benefits. Let's look at Dwight's 13 new "performance zones" with a dozen or more administrators, each making OVER $100K, not including benefits. Let's look at the ed shed and all of the desk jockeys who contribute exactly nothing to the education of any child in CCSD, each of whom make around $100K OR MORE. Let's talk about the millions of dollars CCSD spent to buy each administrator an iPad. Let's talk about why the principal at my kid's elementary school hasn't even taken her's out of the freaking box.

    Let's talk about why Dwight Jones needs a $700/month vehicle allowance. Let's talk about why the CCSD is paying for Jones' house in Southern Highlands. Let's talk about why the CCSD employs an accountant who is not now and has never been a trained educator as the executive administrator in charge of classroom education.

    Let's talk about why CCSD runs a police department, when there are no fewer than ten other sworn law enforcement agencies operating in the valley who could easily handle calls at CCSD properties (and frequently do anyway). Let's talk about the $40 million dollar budget that CCSDPD sucks away from education every year.

    Let's talk about how no CCSDPD employees have been charged for providing alcohol to a minor who then killed someone while DUI after leaving a party where he played beer pong with CCSD cops.

    Lets talk about how CCSDPD officers are miles away from schools pretending to be Highway Patrol and writing traffic tickets instead of performing the duties that taxpayers expect and actually being school cops.

    Let's talk about the repeated sacrifices CCSD teachers have made, like volunteering pay freezes, losing pay when schools went to 9 months, assuming significantly greater responsibilities in classrooms that have ballooned to 50 or more students.

    We never seem to talk about any of the above. When people like me try to address these issues with Mr. Jones or any member of the School Board, we're dismissed out of hand.

  5. Taken individually, each of the items addressed above may only be a small drop in a very large bucket. However when all of the waste, all of the overhead and all of spending without purpose are taken together, the impact becomes significant.

    There is plenty of money in CCSD's budget. Instead of taking still more out of the pockets of the people who actually accomplish the mission of the district - THE TEACHERS - we should be eliminating wasteful and pointless spending that does not directly finance education in the classroom.

  6. Teachers are the benevolent citizens of the world. They see a world full of wonder as opportunities to sojourn and learn, explore and expound, state and deliberate. Teachers have no ill will towards their fellow human beings, and are hope driven and full of passion and fire.

    Believe me when I say that teachers are NOT getting rich in their chosen profession. Many times, instead of using some of their money to invest in their own personal future, they instead spend it on their students and classroom, on the future of others in their charge. You would probably do the same thing too.

    Teachers are not the ones in fancy offices with secretaries, driving the fancy cars, or have extra perks as moving expenses, etc., yet they are being singled out.

    Most all the teachers in Clark County, have families and their children also go to public school as well. Teachers consume groceries, gas, pay mortgage, and taxes, that supports our community just as you do.

    It will pain teachers to face the choice of making their purchases either/or: either buy for their classroom or for their family/self. There will be NO wiggle room. The Arbitrator has pretty well made that choice for teachers in Clark County.

    Blessings and Peace,

  7. Arbitrator has a clue. Would you all note, write it down, that "the average teacher makes $73,974" in Clark County School District. Please stop the misrepresentation and wailing about less than $30,000. I don't care that you start at less and it takes years to get to the six-figure top out. But I do agree that where it's pointless, we should eliminate spending outside the classrooms: on continuing teacher ed (they can pay for it), so many administrators, so many bus drivers. I heard that WCSD is changing school day start times so bus drivers can WORK full time and handle several bus routes--high school earlier, then middle school and fit in an elementary school run. Saw that somewhere in Nevada, kids are walking, no buses, with parent escorts, to work on fitness. Now let's cut the number of bus runs per route--stop catering to late students and those who stay for one to several after-school activities. Fine if they do the after-school thing but they can arrange their own rides.

  8. I think teacher pay is probably about right as is; increases should be tied to classroom performance, not time in grade or outside academic credentialing. Reforming hiring, retention & retirement policies is probably overdue as well -- all seemed to be skewed towards bureacrats and their questionable requirements, not teachers or teacher performance. And a much closer look needs to be taken at administrative costs, student transportation, and tech/book/supply purchasing.

  9. According to glass the average teacher salary in Las Vegas is $45,080. My husband has been a teacher for 28 years, is at the the very top of the salary scale and he does not make the anywhere near $73,974. Where do they get these numbers?

  10. I think teachers and their union should be identifying and going after areas of expense (administration), and things keystone6 cited that could be cut. That's one of the huge problems with any school district, there is so much bureaucracy and unnecessary expense that does not go to education.

  11. Simply ---they add in annual payments to his pension and health care, insurance, sick benefits, etc.