Leaders of Clark County teachers union see big jump in pay

While leaders of the local teachers union have criticized the Clark County School District for overpaying administrators and underpaying educators, they have a recent history of paying themselves huge salaries.

In 2009, the last year for which a required Internal Revenue Service report is available, more than a third of the union’s $4.1 million budget went to pay just nine leaders. Each earned between $139,785 and $208,683 for a total of $1.5 million, according to the Clark County Education Association’s report to the IRS.

John Jasonek, then executive director, got $208,683 for running the union but also received $423,863 from two affiliated organizations — the union’s Community Foundation and Center for Teaching Excellence — making his total pay $632,546.

In addition, union-created Teachers Health Trust CEO Peter Alpert was paid $546,133.

Current union officials refused a Las Vegas Review-Journal request for more recent figures. The nine workers are singled out in the report because the IRS requires the union to list officers, key employees and anyone making at least $100,000 a year.

It’s unclear whether the union still dedicates a third of its budget to a handful of top earners. That eventually will become public in its annual IRS reports, but there’s a three-year lag.

Jasonek, who retired in 2010 and whose total compensation tripled from 2003 to 2009, defended the expenditures: "Unions are basically a service industry, and most of the capital we put into people."

But such salaries aren’t business as usual for other large teachers unions.

Five teachers unions for the nation’s six largest school districts spent 3 to 7 percent of their budgets to compensate their leaders in 2009, according to their reports. The only exception: The Clark County Education Association dedicated 36.3 percent of its budget to these salaries.

"We believe that the salary/compensations of CCEA staff is standard," said current union Executive Director John Vellardita, who objected to being compared to other teachers unions: "You’re not comparing apples to apples."

He contended that spending practices differ based on a union’s number of members, employees, revenue and location.

But all of the country’s largest teachers unions are unique, from the sixth-largest Broward Teachers Union in Florida, which represents 3,000 fewer teachers than Clark County’s 18,000, to the largest, United Federation of Teachers in New York City, which represents four times as many teachers as the Clark County union.

Those unions’ spending practices meet the standards for nonprofit groups, union or not, according to an annual analysis of nonprofit executives’ salaries by The Non-Profit Times.

While Vellardita deems the comparison to other large unions irrelevant, the IRS might have a different opinion, said Sandra Miniutti, vice president of Charity Navigator, a watchdog group that evaluates the country’s 5,000 largest nonprofits for responsible spending.

The IRS cannot comment on the finances of a specific organization, spokesman Raphael Tulino said. But it can fine a nonprofit if compensations are beyond reasonable.

To define reasonableness, the IRS adds all forms of pay, including salary, bonuses and deferred noncash compensation, according to information provided by Tulino. To set the bar for what’s reasonable, it then looks at "like services by like enterprises under like circumstances."

Such a comparison could lead the IRS to look at the country’s largest teachers unions, Miniutti said, and "looking at one through six, Clark County’s out of the ballpark."

That could spell trouble for the union, said Terrie Temkin, a Miami-based consultant and writer with 30 years’ experience in nonprofit management. Her column, "On nonprofits," now appears in the Philanthropy Journal.

"The IRS is looking very closely at this right now. A lot of people are looking at the nonprofit sector with a lot of skepticism."

PAY HIKES FOR UNION LEADERS

Even though teachers have a history of modest cost-of-living increases and may soon face a pay freeze or layoffs, union and health trust leaders have fared much better.

For years, the Clark County union’s IRS report listed only three key workers earning $100,000 or more — the executive director, president and vice president. Their compensation constituted 10 percent of annual expenses, closer but still higher than the 3 to 7 percent range typical for the country’s other large teachers unions.

That changed in 2008, when the union added a pair of associate executive directors, two deputy executive directors, a director and a business manager to the high-earners list on its IRS report. What was a $400,000 budget allocation from 2003 to 2007, more than tripled to $1.4 million.

"I don’t see an issue with this," said Jasonek, union executive director at the time.

He offered two explanations for the sudden leap in high-paid positions, neither of which mesh with the information reported to the IRS.

He first claimed that most of the high earners must be Uniserv directors, which means a majority of their salaries was reimbursed by the National Education Association, the local union’s parent organization. Uniserv directors are NEA-trained staff. But only one person on the report — John Smith, who earned $126,600 in 2008 — was listed as a Uniserv director. Jasonek looked over the names and confirmed that Smith was the only Uniserv director.

"I’m telling you that can’t be right," said Jasonek, claiming that just because it’s the union’s official financial report to the IRS "doesn’t necessarily mean everybody got it right."

Vellardita — who didn’t work for the Clark County union in 2008 — and teachers union President Ruben Murillo also reviewed the names. Both said the National Education Association significantly reimbursed the union for five of the nine positions, not just one, but would not provide any documentation.

"We won’t give you any financial documents," Vellardita said, also refusing to say how much the NEA reimbursed the local union, only that it was a significant amount.

Jasonek later said that top salaries had gradually approached the $100,000 threshold and crossed over at the same time: "Everybody was probably just bumping that number and went over that year."

His explanation would mean that salaries alone jumped by 20 to 60 percent in a year from just under $100,000 to between $120,000 and $160,000.

"Let me just say this instead of trying to make explanations," Jasonek finally said. "I have never made apologies for trying to have well-skilled, talented workers and awarding them within reasonable means."

Information about the union’s top earners wasn’t the only surprise on its IRS reports.

In 2009, the union paid Brendolyn Black $30,000 for one hour of work per week at the Clark County Education Association Community Foundation. Jasonek said Black went to schools and monitored tutoring programs, and that her hours seem incorrect.

He said she likely worked an hour a day, even though the 2008 IRS report also shows one hour a week for $30,000. If he’s right about the error, that means Black worked five hours a week to earn $30,000 a year.

JASONEK’S SALARY

Jasonek dramatically increased his total earnings over recent years by creating new positions with separate salaries. His total compensation more than tripled from $188,282 in 2003 to $632,546 in 2009.

In contrast, the top leader of the nation’s five other largest teachers unions averaged about $175,000.

Even the largest, New York City, only paid its executive director $284,739. That’s less than half of Jasonek’s total reported compensation even though the New York union’s budget alone is 13 times that of the Clark County Education Association, its community foundation and Center for Teaching Excellence, all of which Jasonek led as executive director.

New York City nonprofit directors are among the most highly paid in the nation, according to Charity Navigators’ database of the country’s 5,000 largest nonprofits.

Miniutti noted that executive directors’ salaries rarely break the $500,000 mark, passing that point only in the country’s largest nonprofit organizations.

"We’re talking about massive, complex organizations like Red Cross America" with a $3.5 billion operating budget, she said.

The National Education Association also fits in that top tier with a $360 million annual budget. However, the executive director of NEA, the national affiliate for the Clark County union, earned $89,000 less than Jasonek, who took in $632,546 from all his local union roles.

The salary of Clark County School District Superintendent Dwight Jones is $270,000. He also receives $4,000 a year for professional development, $700 a month in car allowance and $660 a month to defray job-related expenses. Nonprofit industry standards suggest Jasonek should have earned closer to $160,000 a year, Miniutti said.

But while she said that standard usually applies to nonprofit charities, not unions, it seems to stand for teachers unions as well.

The Clark County union serves teachers in a district sandwiched by Broward County and Miami-Dade public schools in Florida. The unions in the three districts have operating budgets ranging from $10 million in Broward to $13.1 million in Miami-Dade. The Clark County union with its two related organizations sit right in the middle with a combined budget of $11.2 million.

Jasonek’s total compensation, however, was three times that of Broward’s and Dade’s top leaders.

Vellardita said that comparing Jasonek’s total compensation to that of other union leaders "isn’t apples to apples." Jasonek concurs.

They said Jasonek’s earnings from the union’s related organizations can’t be lumped together with his union earnings, and should be considered separately.

In 2009, Jasonek earned $208,683 from the union and $423,863 from the union’s community foundation and Center for Teaching Excellence. Jasonek created the foundation and the center to provide continuing education for Clark County teachers. He said he worked an average of 85 hours a week at the three organizations, according to the union’s IRS reports.

Both Jasonek and Vellardita said the salaries should be viewed separately because the foundation and center weren’t part of the union.

"All the organizations were totally separate," Jasonek claimed.

Vellardita, who wasn’t a part of the union or even in Nevada at the time, agreed.

But were the organizations separate and unrelated under Jasonek’s leadership?

Their operations indicate otherwise.

A quarter of all 2009 foundation expenditures was spent in a $450,000 check written to the teachers union, according to the IRS report.

Jasonek said the check was re­imbursement for using union staff. Union employees had been running the foundation for years, according to the foundation’s 2005 IRS report.

"All functions of the Silver State Learning Alliance (another name for the foundation) are carried out by CCEA employees at the CCEA facility," it said.

In addition, union leader Jasonek negotiated teacher contract terms that committed the district to pay annually to the foundation for projects in 2006-07. Some of that money went to the Center for Teaching Excellence, where Jasonek was also executive director, according to checks from the district to the foundation but endorsed to the center. In the IRS reports for the foundation and center, both list their addresses as the union office at 4230 McLeod Drive.

While Vellardita defended Jasonek, he also attempted to distance the union from the former executive director: "Whatever occurred with Jasonek and this organization is the past."

Vellardita and CCEA president Murillo said that when Jasonek retired in 2010, any ties between the union and its arms — the community foundation and Center for Teaching Excellence — were severed. Vellardita is executive director only for the union, he said, and no union staff is currently helping the foundation.

"We have absolutely no ties to the community foundation," he said.

Vellardita said his salary is less than Jasonek’s 2003 union pay of $160,000, but refused to provide exact numbers or documentation.

That figure would put him in line with the salaries of his peers running the country’s largest teachers unions.

THE HEALTH TRUST’S TOP EARNER

Cost-of-living adjustments have been very kind to Peter Alpert, chief executive officer of the Teachers Health Trust, which provides insurance to teachers.

Since he was hired in 2000, "all (pay) increases have been cost-of-living adjustments" approved by the board, according to the trust’s financial statements. If that’s the case, the cost of living increased dramatically from 2004 to 2009, since Alpert’s salary climbed by 57 percent, from $175,000 to $275,148.

On top of that, he received a $270,985 payment as the health trust’s subrogation lawyer. He said that he’s always been paid for those duties on top of his earnings as CEO, but his subrogation earnings weren’t listed on the trust’s statements from 2000 to 2008. Subrogation involves claims from people whose injuries were caused by a third party.

Alpert said his base salary of $275,148 hasn’t changed since 2009 but he wouldn’t provide documentation. School district officials also have requested verification of Alpert’s earnings, but haven’t received it.

Three letters from the district to the Teachers Health Trust in August requested all salaries, audited financial statements and records of board meetings, resolutions and written consents for the past three years.

Ron Lopez, the union’s associate executive director, responded to the district, claiming that salaries are "confidential and proprietary and are not relevant to the issues in these proceedings."

Salaries earned by trust officials are relevant because the district pays $546 per teacher into the trust every month, regardless of whether teachers participate in the trust. With almost 18,000 teachers, that equates to more than $115 million a year — about 6 percent of the district’s $2 billion operating budget.

Lopez also claimed that health trust board minutes, resolutions and written consents are "confidential and proprietary and are not relevant to the issues in these proceedings."

Contact reporter Trevon Milliard at tmilliard@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0279.

ad-high_impact_4
News
Hundreds Attend Slides, Rides and Rock and Roll in North Las Vegas
Hundreds attended the inaugural slides, rides and rock and roll event in North Las Vegas Saturday. The event featured a car show, water slide park and live music. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
It's All Rainbows At The Center's New Cafe
The Gay and Lesbian Center of Southern Nevada (The Center) introduced its new coffeeshop, Little Rainbow Cafe, in June. Rainbows are everywhere, even in the lattes and toast, and employees wear t-shirts with the quote "Be a rainbow in someone's cloud." Owner Ben Sabouri said the concept is "built around the idea of, you know, be kind and treat everybody the same." (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Get a Rainbow Latte at the The Center's Little Rainbow Cafe
The Center, a community center for the LGBTQ community of Southern Nevada, has a new cafe. Little Rainbow Cafe serves up a pride-inspired signature "Rainbow Latte." (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pedestrian killed trying to cross Sahara
A pedestrian was killed Friday trying to cross Sahara Avenue near Maryland Parkway about 5 a.m. A sedan struck the pedestrian while the person was outside the crosswalk between Maryland Parkway and Pardee Place, according to Las Vegas police. Police also said the driver of the sedan remained at the site of the crash. The pedestrian was pronounced dead at the scene. This is the 75th fatal crash that Las Vegas police have investigated in 2018.
Man shot multiple times
Las Vegas police are investigating after a man was shot multiple times early Friday morning. The shooting was called in about 3:20 a.m. at the Harbor Island Apartments, 370 E. Harmon Ave., near Koval Lane. The man was hospitalized and is expected to survive, but police are still searching for the shooter.
Former Military Police Corps Officer Celebrates 100th Birthday
Summerlin resident Gene Stephens, who served as a military policeman in WWII and escorted then-Gen. Dwight Eisenhower and President Roosevelt during the war, turned 100 on July 13, 2018. He credits his longevity to living a normal life, exercising regularly and eating three square meals a day. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Motorcyclist suffers serious injuries
A motorcycle rider was seriously injured Tuesday night after a crash on Charleston Boulevard. The crash was reported just before 10 p.m. near Durango Drive, according to Las Vegas police. The motorcyclist was hospitalized with unknown injuries but is expected to survive. Las Vegas police are investigating the cause of the accident.
CCSD Superintendent Jesus Jara Has Lunch With Students
New Clark County School District superintendent Jesus Jara continued his listening tour by having lunch with students at Red Rock Elementary School as part of the district's summer lunch program. In conjunction with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, children under the age of 18 can find a free lunch at 104 different locations across the valley through the summer months. Jara highlighted the free program and the importance of eating healthy during his visit. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Timeline Leading Up to Scott Dozier's Execution
Scott Dozier is set to be executed by lethal injection the night of July 11 at Ely State Prison. Dozier was convicted of the April 2002 killing of 22-year-old Jeremiah Miller and was given the death penalty in Oct. 2007. In 2016 Dozier asked in a letter to District Judge Jennifer Togliatti requesting that he “be put to death.” A three-drug cocktail of midazolam, a sedative; the painkiller fentanyl; and cisatracurium, a paralytic, is expected to end his life. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New Program Helps Mothers Battling Addiction
Jennifer Stanert has battled drug addiction on and off for the last 21 years. It caused her to lose custody of one of her children, Alec, after she gave birth while high. A new program at Dignity Health St. Rose Dominican Hospitals aims to connect mothers like Stanert with community resources and provide case management services while still pregnant to get connected to lactation and parenting classes, group peer support and education on neonatal abstinence syndrome. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Felon caught with guns in Mandalay Bay room 3 years before Las Vegas shooting
A felon was caught with guns in a Mandalay Bay hotel room three years before the October 1st mass shooting. Six weapons were found inside Kye Aaron Dunbar’s 24th floor room in November 2014. Four were semi-automatic. One was a scoped rifle pointing toward the Strip, according to court documents. Dunbar was sentenced to 40 months in federal prison for unlawful possession. The case just came to light in a lawsuit accusing Mandalay Bay of negligence in connection with the Oct. 1st shooting.
Illegal fireworks in the Las Vegas area garner complaints
Clark County received nearly 25,000 complaints over the Independence Day holiday on a new illegal fireworks site. Reports from the site led to at least 10 illegal fireworks busts across the valley overnight. As of Thursday morning, the county is still compiling the total number of citations issued.
House fire displaces 2 people
Two people were displaced after a house fire early Thursday morning. The fire, at 963 Temple Drive in east Las Vegas, was reported just after midnight, according to a battalion chief from the Clark County Fire Department. Crews from the North Las Vegas and Las Vegas fire departments also were called in to help. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
"Red White and Boom" July 4 Fireworks at the Stratosphere
Full video of the Fourth of July "Red White and Boom" fireworks show at the Stratosphere as seen from the 8th floor Elation Pool. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
July 4th fireworks at the Eureka Casino Resort in Mesquite
July 4th fireworks at the Eureka Casino Resort in Mesquite. (7-04-18) (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Crowds Enjoy Fireworks at the Stratosphere
Revelers enjoyed watching fireworks displays from the Stratosphere's 8th floor Elation pool on July 4. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pedestrian killed in Henderson
A pedestrian trying to cross St. Rose Parkway at Bermuda was hit by a vehicle on Tuesday night and later died. The crash was reported around 11:30 p.m. Las Vegas police responded initially, but handed over the investigation to Henderson police once it was determined the accident happened in their jurisdiction. Las Vegas police did respond to a report of a pedestrian being hit by a vehicle on the Strip. The person, who was hit by a BMW near Fashion Show mall, suffered serious but not life-threatening injuries.
USPS owes $3.5 million for using Vegas Statue of Liberty on stamp
The United States Postal Service has been ordered to pay $3.5 million to a sculptor after using the Las Vegas replica of the Statue of Liberty in a stamp. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
What to expect at Station Casinos' Fourth of July celebration
Station Casinos' is hosting its annual 4th of July celebration with Fireworks by Grucci. Fireworks scheduled to go off on Wednesday, July 4 around 9 p.m. at Green Valley Ranch Resort, Red Rock Resort, Fiesta Rancho and Texas Station. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Officer Brent Horlacher shoots at Jessie Murillo
Las Vegas police video of an officer-involved shooting on June 29, 2018. Officer Brent Horlacher, 28, fired a single shot at suspect Jessie Murillo. Murillo was not injured. The radio audio is of the officer who fired the gun and the body camera video is from a different officer. Radio audio excerpts are added to the video and are not the precise times the audio was spoken.
Pawn Stars' Richard Harrison honored at memorial service
A memorial service was conducted for Richard "Old Man" Harrison at Palm Mortuary in Las Vegas on Sunday, July 1, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
UNLV professor cautions dangers of distracted walking
An alarming number of adults do not cross the street safely according to a study conducted by professor Tim Bungum of the School of Community Health Sciences at the UNLV. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas-Review Journal) @brokejournalist
Car left in remote desert 21 years is recovered for late owner's children
Showboat casino blackjack dealer Mark Blackburn died outside of White Hills, Ariz. 21 years ago. His 1980 Datsun B310 wagon remained in the remote desert until a network of volunteers recovered the car for his children. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Resort on Mount Charleston Sold for $4.8 million
North Carolina couple and hoteliers Deanna and Colin Crossman have purchased the Resort on Mount Charleston for $4.8 million. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Traffic stop turns into officer-involved shooting
Las Vegas police are investigating after an officer fired a shot at a suspect fleeing a traffic stop early Friday morning. The officer tried to pull over a black Dodge Durango with license plates that belonged to a different vehicle. The driver took off northbound on Lamb Boulevard and at one point crossed into the southbound lanes. A man got out of the car and fled on foot. During the chase, the officer saw something in the man’s hand and fired a single shot, police said. The man wasn’t injured and was later taken into custody. Police could not confirm if the man had a weapon when he was arrested. This is the 9th officer involved shooting of 2018. Per police policy, the identity of the officer will be released after 48 hours. 01:05
5 Dead in Shooting at Capital Gazette Newspaper in Maryland
5 Dead in Shooting at Capital Gazette Newspaper in Maryland Five people have been killed and two have been injured in a "targeted attack" at the newspaper, which is owned by the Baltimore Sun. Anne Arundel County deputy police chief Bill Krampf said the suspected gunman entered the building with a shotgun and walked through the lower level of the building, where the newspaper is housed. According to Krampf, the suspect "possibly" had a connection to the paper through social media. The suspect was identified as Jarrod Warren Ramos. Ramos filed a defamation claim in 2012 against the paper but the case was dismissed. He is currently in custody. President Trump was briefed on the events.
Clark County Fire inspects fireworks booths
Clark County Fire Prevention Inspector Amanda Wildermuth talks about inspecting fireworks booths to keep everyone safe on Fourth of July. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Robbery suspects apprehended
Four robbery suspects were taken into custody Thursday morning after a vehicle and foot chase that ended in an east Las Vegas neighborhood. The incident began when a person was robbed at gunpoint around 4:45 a.m. near Maryland Parkway and Desert Inn. Officers arriving at the scene tried to stop two vehicles. One vehicle escaped but police chased the second into a neighborhood on Flamingo Road near Mountain Vista Street. Police surrounded the neighborhood and the suspects were apprehended. It looked like one police vehicle was involved in a collision with the suspects' car. One woman suffered an unknown injury and was taken to the hospital in an ambulance. 01:04
Las Vegas Monsoon and Flood Season Are Approaching
The Clark County Flood Control District held a press conference to remind the public that monsoon season begins in July and runs through September. The exceptionally rainy season brings with it dangerous flooding events that can put the public in danger. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Garage catches fire in central valley
No one was injured after a detached garage caught fire early Wednesday morning on Lawry Avenue near Lake Mead Boulevard and MLK. Crews from the Las Vegas Fire Department responded to a fire call just after 2 a.m. When they arrived, firefighters had to cut holes in the roof to clear out smoke inside the garage so firefighters could enter safely, The cause of the fire is still under investigation. No injuries were reported.
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like