Crying, her voice trembling, Clark County School District teacher Shannon Regin repeatedly apologized as she sobbed through her account of last week.
Unlike 30 other upset and angry teachers who spoke Thursday at a Clark County School Board meeting, she knows what her future holds if the district enacts a contingency plan to lay off 1,000 teachers midyear.
She heard it straight from her principal at Reedom Elementary School, near Durango Drive and Mountain's Edge Parkway. Regin went to her boss on Dec. 1 after learning that all principals were told to plan for teacher layoffs. Seniority probably would be a key factor in reducing staff.
"She told me the school would lose three teachers and I'd be one of them," said the second-grade teacher, who just graduated from college in June. "I go to work every day knowing I might not have a job anymore. I've only been doing this a few months, but I love it."
The cash-strapped district has said midyear layoffs may be needed to balance its budget if the Clark County Education Association refuses to grant teacher contract concessions that include freezing raises for experience and additional education for two years.
At Thursday's meeting, more than 100 education association members sat in the audience dressed in red.
Teacher contract negotiations weren't supposed to be such a consuming topic at the meeting, but it quickly stole the spotlight from the support staff union, the Education Support Employees Association, which represents bus drivers, custodians, cooks and more. That union reached a contract settlement with the district after nine meetings over nine months.
The School Board voted 5-0 to approve support staff's 2011-14 contract, in which the union agreed to concessions that will save the district $34.7 million.
Board member Deanna Wright abstained after disclosing her husband was a member of the support staff union. Board member John Cole was absent.
Support staff accepted a pay freeze but will continue to receive raises for seniority. The raises will be funded by the union's defunct health trust fund at a cost of $9.6 million in 2011-12 and $19.2 million in 2012-13. But that fund will run dry in June 2013.
If money isn't found somewhere else, the district has said all workers who received the raises would see their salaries cut back to June 2011 levels.
The support staff contract garnered no comment from the audience, not even a word from outspoken union President John Carr. However, Carr did stand and speak for teachers, wearing a red shirt to show unity with the Clark County Education Association members packed into the board room and spilling into the foyer at the Greer Education Center.
"I stand for teachers as well," he said. "If you don't let them do their jobs equitably, everybody will suffer, not just students."
School Board President Carolyn Edwards demanded silence from the rambunctious audience on several occasions, saying, "If you become disruptive, we'll have you removed."
Teachers, students and supporters told the district to negotiate with the teachers' union. But the district wasn't the party that called an end to talks, district spokeswoman Amanda Fulkerson said.
The Clark County Education Association declared an impasse after the minimum four meetings with the district's negotiation team and moved the process into arbitration, where a third party determines which contract proposal to choose.
"Now, there's no middle ground," she said. "That's the bottom line. If (the district) wins, no layoffs and a pay freeze. If the union wins, some get raises, and others get laid off."
There is more to it than that, said Ruben Murillo, president of the education association. The union doesn't want layoffs, he said, but won't take a pay freeze either. He didn't offer a compromise but suggested the district look to projections for local sales tax, which accounts for 30 percent of the district's budget. He said those taxes are expected to increase 20 percent next year.
But the district needs the concessions from teachers to fill a $39 million hole in its budget for a school year that is now half over, Fulkerson said. "We're required by law to present a balanced budget to the Legislature."
Contact reporter Trevon Milliard at email@example.com or 702-383-0279.