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New CCSD teacher contract approved by board, ending 10-month process

Updated January 26, 2024 - 7:23 pm

The Clark County School Board gave the OK on Thursday to a new collective bargaining agreement with the teachers union — the last step in a contentious process that spanned about 10 months.

The board voted 6-0 during a meeting at Northeast Career &Technical Academy in North Las Vegas. Trustee Lisa Guzman abstained because she works for the Nevada State Education Association and some members will benefit from the contract.

In December, an arbitrator approved a new two-year agreement between the Clark County School District and Clark County Education Association, which represents more than 16,000 licensed employees.

It came after the district declared an impasse in bargaining in September 2023 after 11 negotiation sessions were held beginning in March 2023.

Kenny Belknap, a high school teacher and CCEA executive board member, had strong criticism for the school board during a public comment period: “You don’t care about educators. It’s pathetic. It’s frustrating, and I don’t know why anyone comes to Southern Nevada to work for people like you.”

The contract is the direct result of the countless work and dedication of CCEA members, he said.

Superintendent Jesus Jara, Belknap claimed, was interested in dragging out the ordeal instead of addressing issues crippling the district.

About 30,000 children will go to school tomorrow without a licensed educator before them, and the new contract will go a long way to addressing that issue, he said.

The contract won’t fix everything, but it’s much-needed relief, Belknap said.

Protests surfaced over the summer

CCEA members had protested at school board meetings and in front of school campuses starting over the summer.

In September, a district judge declared that a teacher strike had occurred and issued a preliminary injunction following unexpected staffing shortages that closed eight schools for one day each. The union denied any involvement, and an appeal remains pending before the Nevada Supreme Court.

The new agreement includes a 10 percent salary increase in the first year and 8 percent in the second. It also calls for $5,000 in additional pay for special education teachers and educators at Title I schools with high vacancy rates.

Changes will cost about $524 million.

The agreement extends most of previous contract terms, school district chief negotiator David Hall said.

Concerns expressed

The board heard more than an hour of public comments, largely from CCEA members.

Some expressed frustration that the district gave two other unions with agreements on Thursday’s agenda more money before it approved the teacher contract.

A few speakers raised concerns about the absence of a one-time lookback for current employees on a new salary schedule. They said that new hires will be paid more than veteran teachers in the district.

Michael Jahn, a teacher at Centennial High School, said he took exception that the agenda item was about approval for the agreement.

The district, he said, gave up that right when it declared an impasse and began the arbitration process. The agreement, he added, is legally binding.

“It’s done,” Jahn said. “You just read it into the record.”

Once again, the union had to fight a superintendent who clearly doesn’t care about educators, he said.

Life-changing contract

Jessica Jones, a kindergarten teacher and CCEA executive board member, said that the district lost more than 300 educators between August and December, and more children are sitting in classrooms without a licensed educator.

She said she’s thankful for the work of educators on the historic contract — making the school district competitive with the western United States — and it’s life-changing for people working in the district because educators have been struggling.

The district described CCEA’s contract proposal as unaffordable and budget busting, Jones said.

The district spent nearly a year during skyrocketing inflation dragging out the contract fight, Jones said, calling it disturbing and unnecessary.

The egos of people in power have cost children educators and their education, “and they cannot get that back,” she said.

Aramis Bacallao, a teacher at Becker Middle School, had harsh words for the board: “Hi, it’s me again. I’m the one that you arrested. The one that you tried to intimidate and harass and defame.”

He was removed from an August school board meeting amid a union protest and was among two union members charged with a misdemeanor for disturbing the peace. A judge dropped Bacallao’s case earlier this month.

Bacallao said he came to the school district with 30 years of experience and it’s his eighth year in the district.

He said he has worked in many schools across the United States and internationally.

“The only place that I have not liked working for is this district.”

Bacallao asked the school board to look in the mirror to reflect on what they’re doing to educators and children.

“Do you care about children?” he asked trustees. He later added: “Some of you are horrible, garbage people.”

Other union agreements

During Thursday’s meeting, the board also voted 6-0 to approve an agreement with the Education Support Employees Association for incentives for school-based support professionals this school year.

Guzman abstained from voting because the union is affiliated with her employer.

School principals can apply incentives of $250, $500, $1,000 or $2,000.

The total cost of the agreement is approximately $21.4 million.

Additionally, trustees voted unanimously to approve an agreement with the Clark County Association of School Administrators and Professional-Technical Employees.

The changes — which take effect in August — include reclassifying elementary school assistant principals one step higher on the salary schedule.

It also increases a cost of living adjustment in the second year of the 2023-25 collective bargaining agreement from 2 percent to 3 percent.

The agreement will cost about $4 million.

Contact Julie Wootton-Greener at jgreener@reviewjournal.com. Follow @julieswootton on X.

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