Contract deal would allow teachers to get pay raises, but no COLA


Teachers would get their pay raises — but not cost-of-living raises — for the next fiscal year in a tentative deal reached between the Clark County School District and the teachers union today.

The proposed one-year contract extension still must be ratified by the School Board and union members before it can go into effect.

School district officials and union leaders agreed to keep in place the “step increases” of 2 percent to 4 percent that reward teachers for gaining job experience and advanced degrees.

However, teachers would forgo a so-called cost-of-living raise, which is negotiated in contract talks and doesn’t always reflect the actual increase in the cost of living. Last year, they received a 4 percent COLA worth about $62 million.

The pay raises come during a deep recession when many government across Nevada workers are taking pay cuts, pay freezes and furloughs, and others are being laid off.

In response to the economic downturn, the Legislature cut funding to the state’s 17 county school districts. Most of the districts’ funding comes through the state.

While the state’s education budget was based on a 4 percent salary decrease for teachers, discretion was left to these districts on how to manage the equivalent of a $192 million cut.

John Jasonek, executive director of the Clark County Education Association, called the tentative pact “a great accomplishment” amid the school district’s layoffs and state workers’ pay cuts.

But there’s one drawback, he said.

“To do this, there will be a little bigger class sizes,” Jasonek said. “It’s certainly not a great day for education.”

The school district also must cover an increase in PERS retirement contributions, said Jasonek, insisting that the district was obligated to do that anyway.

Superintendent Walt Rulffes and School Board members said they had to be careful about commenting until the proposed contract comes before them at the June 25 board meeting.

Board President Terri Janison said it was premature to call it a tentative agreement when the School Board hasn’t had a chance to look at it.

“I need to know where we are in the discussions,” Janison said.

The union’s 13,000 members will have a chance to vote in mid-August on the proposed one-year contract, Jasonek said.

“I expect overwhelming ratification,” he said.

Contact reporter Scott Wyland at swyland@reviewjournal.com or 702-455-4519.

 

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