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Clark County teachers won’t strike to start school year

The Clark County School District will kick off the school year next week without a massive teacher’s strike, although the teacher’s union is still holding fast to its threat of one if educators don’t receive raises or if cuts are made to teaching positions.

Two issues remain between the district and the Clark County Education Association: the negotiation of a new two-year contract and an assurance that no cuts to classrooms were made when schools recently cut $98.02 per student from their strategic budgets to close a $17 million deficit.

The district recently reported to the union that the recent cuts did not include teaching positions or cause an increase in class sizes, according to John Vellardita, the union’s executive director. He said the union would be verifying that statement.

In the meantime, the two parties also need to hash out a 2019-21 contract that incorporates raises, step increases and health care costs.

But the Legislature, following a push by Gov. Steve Sisolak to raise educator salaries, didn’t end up appropriating enough to cover those costs for the district — which faced a $17 million deficit this school year and will face another $17 million shortage next year.

The union has submitted its proposed contract, which includes a 3 percent raise, 2 percent step increase and 3.8 percent increase in health care costs to be covered by the district, Vellardita said. The union plans to give the district a deadline — to be determined — to approve the proposal.

“We are not interested in delaying this any further than it’s been delayed,” he said. “We’ve contacted the governor’s office and indicated to them that the (legislative) session’s over, we’re starting the school year and there’s not the 3 percent, or the money that’s been allocated.”

Meanwhile, parents should expect business as usual when their children return to school on Monday.

“I have been visiting schools and I am really excited to see and welcome so many of our hardworking teachers who are getting ready for the first day of school,” Superintendent Jesus Jara said in a statement.

Vellardita said the union would still gauge whether there’s an appetite for a strike if its demands are not met. If there is one, he said the union would give teachers and parents plenty of notice.

He said teachers are questioning why they have not yet received raises after the governor promised them.

“The pressure is going to mount every day moving forward that we don’t deliver on this,” he said. “And so I don’t see people all of a sudden saying, ‘OK, I give up, I won’t take anything, I’m not going to fight.’ I see the opposite happening.”

Contact Amelia Pak-Harvey at apak-harvey@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4630. Follow @AmeliaPakHarvey on Twitter.

This story was updated to include a statement from Superintendent Jesus Jara.

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