Retired teachers to fill CCSD vacancies

Teachers in math, English, science and special education have been so hard to find that the Clark County School Board approved rehiring retired teachers Thursday to help fill 269 vacancies.

Under state law for critical labor shortages, the Clark County School District must show board members that every effort was made to fill these jobs. Using retired teachers as a solution for the next two years means paying them a salary on top of their pension payments. Chief Human Resources Officer Staci Vesneske pointed to the difficulty created by the short supply of teachers licensed in these disciplines.

She also emphasized how “many qualified candidates are unable to license in Nevada” because of difficulties created by the Nevada Department of Education not automatically accepting teachers’ licenses from other states, forcing these teachers to take Nevada’s certification exams. Sometimes, they can’t pass right away.

The district and the Nevada Department of Education have clashed over this issue, with district officials requesting temporary licenses for teachers until they meet all Nevada licensing requirements. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Dale Erquiaga denied the request at the advice of the Nevada Attorney General’s office, pointing to federal law that prohibits the waiver of any state licensing requirements for teachers in core subjects.

Issuing these licenses may jeopardize more than $90 million in federal funding, according to a report from Deputy Attorney General Carrie Parker.

The school board is well aware of the head-butting, having unanimously agreed earlier this month to circumvent the education department and ask the Legislature for a bill creating temporary six-month licenses.

The district has struggled for years to fill special education openings as well as those in math, English and science. About 10 percent of these teachers tend to leave the district every year, doubling Clark County’s average turnover rate for all teachers. Thursday’s critical labor shortage measure is just a two-year renewal that will allow retired teachers to stay in many of these positions, Vesneske said.

The district was seeking 26 retired math teachers in July, but that had grown to 40 vacancies by Thursday. There are 37 science teacher vacancies. The district needs to find 43 English teachers and 149 special education teachers, tying the highs of 2012-13.

The sudden increase is largely due to a wave of 200 teacher retirements and resignations in August, just weeks before school started, Vesneske said. The last-minute retirement rush isn’t because teachers are jumping at the chance to earn their pensions and a paycheck, Vesneske said.

To avoid such a thing, the district makes retiring teachers wait at least a year before rehiring them in critical shortage areas, she said.

Contact Trevon Milliard at tmilliard@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0279. Follow @TrevonMilliard on Twitter.