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Administrators support layoffs based on merit, not seniority

Collective bargaining doesn’t preclude recognizing merit over seniority in public schools.

While Gov. Brian Sandoval chose not to support his predecessor’s proposal to eliminate collective bargaining for public employee groups, he has championed ditching the seniority system of retaining educators that’s a cornerstone of most negotiated agreements.

Sandoval wants to reward performance. And when it comes to layoffs, he wants to end “last in, first out” policies and give public schools the ability to jettison bad employees and keep the good ones, regardless of time on the job.

That can happen within the collective bargaining process, says Stephen Augspurger, executive director of the Clark County Association of School Administrators and Professional-technical Employees.

The bargaining group’s membership includes the Clark County School District’s 1,200 administrators: principals, assistant principals, deans, and central office staff.

Last month, Augspurger issued the tweet to prove his case: “CCASAPE’s proposed changes to Article 26 (Reduction in Force) have been approved by CCSD’s Board of Trustees on 4/14/11.”

Should the district resort to layoffs, the changes mean that the reductions affecting administrators that can’t be made through attrition or resignations will be decided by merit.

Administrators who have received two unsatisfactory ratings within the last two contract years would then be next in line for layoffs, he says.

According to the language posted on CCASAPE’s website, the two unsatisfactory evaluations used must occur in different contract years.

“We want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem,” says Augspurger, adding that all educators have a vested interest in improving student performance and public school quality.

The process would then go to those administrators with one unsatisfactory rating, and so on until the reduction in force is complete.

The change in contract language isn’t a hollow gesture — Augspurger expects to see it exercised all too soon in the face of state funding cuts and the district’s bleak budget expectations for 2011-12.

“We know there’s going to be a RIF,” Augspurger says. “For us to say anything but that would not be presenting a realistic picture.”

Contact Assistant City Editor Lisa Kim Bach at lbach@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0287.

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