Las Vegas Sun

October 18, 2019

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Clark County teachers contract approved, ending months-long school battle

CCSD And Teachers Union Avoid Strike

Steve Marcus

Clark County School District Superintendent Jesus Jara attends a news conference at CCSD headquarters Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2019. The district and the teachers union announced a tentative agreement to avoid a strike.

The Clark County School District Board of Trustees unanimously ratified an amended, $3 billion two-year contract for licensed educators Thursday that meets all of the demands of the area’s largest teachers union.

It was the final step in a months-long fight between the district and the Clark County Education Association over teacher pay, benefits and compensation for professional development that nearly led to the largest teacher strike in Nevada history.

Under the modified contract, which extends through July 1, 2021, all teachers will receive a 3% pay increase and a 4% increase in the district’s contributions to monthly health insurance premiums. Eligible employees will also be entitled to a 2% step increase.

Teachers who have completed three years of professional development will be able to move up in the district’s column payment system in the years that the contract is in effect as well. Each advancement amounts to a roughly $5,400 salary increase.

The professional development money was the main sticking point that held up negotiations in the eleventh hour last month.

Under the amended contract, the union and the district will form focus groups to work toward the establishment of a new professional development system to replace the column advancements after 2021. The groups will consist of an equal number of representatives from the district and the union and no more than four representatives from each body.

The cost to the district of teacher compensation now totals $3,015,500,000, Superintendent Jesus Jara said.

The district and the union, which represents some 11,000 of the CCSD’s 18,000 teachers, announced that they had come to an agreement Aug. 28, two weeks before the date of a planned strike if negotiations continued to fail. The temporary nature of the professional growth system and the goal of developing a new system to replace it was not initially announced as part of the agreement.

Union members “overwhelming accepted” the contract in an online vote this week, said CCEA executive director John Vellardita. Over 98% of union members who participated in the vote approved the contract, he said.

“The negotiations committee approved this, the CCEA executive board approved this and our members approved this. So, I look forward to your approval,” union president Vikki Courtney said minutes before the school board vote, over five hours into Thursday’s meeting.

Funding for professional development will cost an additional $15 million annually, according to district documents. The raises, step increases and added benefits will cost another $94.5 million over the next two years.

In total, the amended contract will cost the district an extra $124.5 million over the next two years.

That’s well above the $69 million in additional funds previously offered by the district during negotiations. Jara said Aug. 28 that the district identified the extra funds for the updated contract after taking a closer look at finances.