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Nevada legislators urge school district, teachers union to reach deal

Updated August 21, 2019 - 6:34 pm

Gov. Steve Sisolak and legislative leaders urged both the Clark County School District and the teachers union on Wednesday to agree on a new contract in order to avoid a possible strike in September.

Superintendent Jesus Jara and Clark County Education Association Executive Director John Vellardita met with the governor, Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson, D-Las Vegas, and Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro, D-Las Vegas. The meeting follows the union’s announcement Tuesday that teachers may strike Sept. 10 if the district does not concede to contract demands by Friday.

But there was no indication that the legislators offered a solution to the issue.

“What was clear from the meeting is that everyone around the table shares the same goals to improve the state’s education system,” the governor’s office said in a news release. “The Governor and leadership are hopeful that those shared goals will help CCSD and CCEA find a resolution that doesn’t disrupt the instruction of more than 300,000 students, put teachers in the cross-hairs of the dispute, and leave parents wondering how to make it work if a strike were to occur.”

The governor and legislators “strongly urged” both sides to honor the negotiating process laid out in their contracts, the release said.

Requests for comment from the district, Vellardita, Frierson and Cannizzaro were not immediately returned.

The threat of a strike has been the source of frustration from parents and teachers alike in a state consistently ranked near the bottom in the nation for education funding.

The contract standstill follows a legislative session that did not appropriate enough money for the school district, which estimated that it received roughly $154 million in extra state funding from the previous year but said that it needed $166.9 million to both balance its budget and provide raises that the governor promised.

The district, which just cut $17 million from its budget by eliminating roughly $98 for every middle and high school student, has offered to provide a 3 percent salary raise, step increases for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 school years, and a 4 percent increase in health care contributions for the next two years.

But it is not offering pay raises for educators who completed enough professional development to advance in the salary table. The union estimates more than 2,000 teachers qualify for that raise.

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

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