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Clark County School Board may hire attorney

The Clark County School Board on Thursday will be asked to approve a $360 an hour pay rate for labor attorney Mark Ricciardi should the school district need to go to arbitration with employee unions over contract negotiations.

The district is seeking $56 million in concessions from employee groups to help balance its budget for the fiscal year that began July 1.

District officials have warned that they might have to lay off as many as 800 employees if concessions are not reached.

There is no formal deadline for concluding collective bargaining, but pressure is mounting because the new school year starts Aug. 29.

If the district cannot come to terms with the four unions representing administrators, police, support staff and teachers, the matter would go to an arbitrator.

District officials emphasized that Ricciardi would be hired only if arbitration is necessary.

Ricciardi works in the Las Vegas office for the national law firm of Fisher and Phillips, which specializes in representing management in labor disputes. Ricciardi did not return a call for comment.

According to his biography at laborlawyer.com, Ricciardi has advised and represented "hotels, casinos, financial institutions, manufacturers, government agencies, and other large and small businesses in labor and employment matters in Las Vegas since 1987."

In light of the sacrifices being asked of employees, John Carr, president of the Education Support Employees Association, thinks the fee is an outrageous example of misplaced priorities within the district.

"They want to hire another lawyer?" Carr said. "Don’t they have enough already?"

The district will have eight lawyers after the resignation of district counsel Bill Hoffman, whose last day of work with the district is Thursday. Hoffman is leaving to become a U.S. magistrate judge.

Donna Mendoza-Mitchell will become the interim chief legal counsel until a permanent successor is named.

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