Teachers rally for parent support in contract negotiations

Parents hoping to drop off their students quickly Wednesday morning at Stanford Elementary School were greeted by a throng of teachers and their union leaders trying to enlist them in a fight for better pay.

The rally and parent outreach event, repeated later in the day at Woolley Elementary School, near Pecos and Alexander roads, is the latest tactic teachers are using to draw public attention to their ongoing contract dispute with the Clark County School District.

District officials and the Clark County Education Association, which represents the teachers, remain locked in negotiations over pay raises, health benefits, retirement plan contributions and more. The two sides already have met enough times for either to declare an impasse, which leads to arbitration.

“I’m not sure exactly what’s going on with the money, but I want to get some answers,” said Bob Padilla, a 44-year-old with three daughters in the district, including one who attends Stanford on Harris Avenue, just east of Nellis Boulevard.

“I’ll probably go online and start making some phone calls,” Padilla said, gesturing to a flyer that a CCEA volunteer handed him and which listed the private cellphone number of Clark County School Board President Linda Young.

The union recently promised to encourage more parents — also seen as potential voters — to contact district board members and demand a resolution to the contract dispute.

At a cost of about $70 million, the union is seeking a contract that includes reimbursement for a hike in retirement plan contributions, teacher raises for length of service and advances in their education, a boost in the amount paid for monthly health insurance premiums and a new salary schedule that starts at $40,000 and tops out at $91,000. The existing teacher pay scale starts at less than $35,000 and tops out at $72,000.

The negotiating team for the district has offered a counter-proposal that costs about $21 million and includes a revised pay scale that also starts at $40,000 but tops out at just $78,000.

The revised schedule includes a step increment of $1,321 per year and an extra $5,284 for teachers who complete more education, such as receiving a master’s degree. The latter column movements would be available once every three years, though teachers who work in at-risk schools could earn the additional pay every two years.

The district’s counter-proposal, which the Las Vegas Review-Journal obtained through a public records request, also would cover employee contributions to their retirement plans.

The offer didn’t satisfy John Vellardita, executive director of the CCEA.

He said the counter-proposal should help address a growing teacher shortage by attracting new recruits with a higher starting salary. However, he didn’t think the revised salary schedule offered much for new hires with experience in other school districts or teachers already working in Clark County schools.

“The current (teacher shortage) crisis has two components: The ability to recruit, and the ability to retain and hold onto teachers,” Vellardita said Wednesday. “Their (proposal) falls short of that.”

Contact Neal Morton at nmorton@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0279. Find him on Twitter: @nealtmorton.

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