Workers: Morale of Clark County schools’ support staff ‘tanked’

Updated August 5, 2018 - 10:33 pm

Some days Chip Lydick goes straight to his school bus to avoid the negative atmosphere in the offices at his Clark County School District bus yard.

“Sometimes going into the squad room or into the office itself, it’s just there’s such a heavy cloud of anxiety or anger,” the bus driver said. “It’s hard to deal with that sometimes.”

Lydick senses the toxic environment that’s sweeping throughout the rest of the district’s support staffers, who feel underappreciated, underpaid and overlooked.

Discouragement in the ranks of the district’s roughly 12,000 support employees — essentially all the nonteaching, police or administrative positions — is rampant, interviews with more than half a dozen support workers indicate.

Morale for the district’s custodians, clerical personnel, bus drivers and other support workers has only gotten worse in the face of stagnant salaries, rising health insurance costs and two years of budget deficits that have weighed heavily on support staff.

“We all feel underappreciated,” said Serena Koerner, a registrar at West Career and Technical Academy. “We all feel like we’re the first to go and the last to be made whole, that our concerns aren’t considered.”

That leaves new Superintendent Jesus Jara and other district officials with a difficult challenge: trying to convey their appreciation for employees who feel that they’re regularly being given the short end of the stick — and often are.

Feeling cheated

Last month, an arbitrator ruled that the district did not have enough money to provide support staffers a 2 percent salary bump for the 2017-18 school year.

Teachers and administrators were awarded raises through arbitration, although teachers have not yet received that raise because the district has fought it in court.

Historically, support staffers have received fewer raises in the past 10 years compared with those two groups, according to district data. They’ve received five wage increases from fiscal years 2007 to 2017 for a total of 12.6 percent in raises, according to district data. Past raises for administrators, teachers and support staff in the Clark County School District

This does not represent the actual increase in salary from 2007 to 2017 due to compounding interest, but is rather the total of each percentage raise over the years.

Teachers, meanwhile, have received seven raises for a total of roughly 18 percent, and administrators received seven for a total of nearly 20 percent.

The district said Friday that the School Board had authorized the superintendent to offer a one-time payment to all employee groups in an effort to boost morale.

But that may not be enough to erase the damage.

Support staffers also apparently bore the brunt of recent budget cuts — at least from the 2017 deficit.

Following that shortfall, 240 support employees were reassigned to a different job, compared with 16 school-based administrators. Six support staffers were ultimately the only ones left without a job after the reassignment process, according to district data.

The district could not provide such data for the most recent $68 million deficit as of Friday.

Some of those reassignments or cuts could be attributable to regular staffing changes and not the deficit, the district notes.

Regardless, the deficits still left an indelible mark on morale.

“In the last few years, it’s really tanked,” said Kathleen Saludares, an office specialist in energy management. “We had people retiring that had no intentions of retiring. They just said, ‘Enough. I just can’t take this anymore.’”

Overworked, promotion prospects dim

On top of stagnant pay and higher health care costs, some employees say they’re expected to do more on the job.

Bus drivers in particular say the district’s constant driver shortage forces them to pick up additional routes that aren’t filled, often putting them behind their schedules.

“It’s very frustrating because I get to a stop to pick up these kids, these kids are now complaining to me, ‘Why are you late, why are you late?’” Lydick said. “I get to the school, the school’s complaining, ‘Why are you late?’ We get parents calling in, ‘Why were they late?’ It’s a snowball effect.”

As of July 31, the district was expecting 71 vacancies out of a workforce of 1,659 drivers when school begins Aug. 13.

Promotion is one way of getting a salary boost, but some employees say that those who are hiring in the district often have their minds made up about who they’ll choose for a job before they post it.

“You just, you can’t get anywhere,” said Sharon Cooper, a construction documents clerk. “There’s so much favoritism that goes on it’s just ridiculous.”

Like others, Cooper said she is looking for jobs outside the district, even though that may mean taking a cut in pay.

Turnover rate among support staffers and school police has slightly increased over the past six years. In the 2012-13 school year, roughly 5.7 percent of those employees left the district, according to district data. In the 2017-18 year, that number was 6.9 percent.

Meanwhile, many support staffers have grown disillusioned with their union, the Education Support Employees Association. The group is locked in a battle with the local Teamsters union in a fight to represent support staffers, a fight that’s awaiting resolution by the state Supreme Court.

“We hate them; we don’t want them,” Saludares said of the ESEA. “They need to go bye-bye. They do nothing for us, nothing.”

ESEA leaders did not respond to requests for comment.

New leader, new hope

Despite the slings and arrows, not all support workers are miserable.

Andrea Gorman understands why her colleagues are feeling down but said she tries to keep a positive attitude.

“It just makes me really happy to see the same kids every year,” said Gorman, a special needs bus driver who’s hoping to go back to school one day. “I’m very excited to see the kids again.”

Jara has acknowledged that the district’s precarious financial state presents an obvious challenge to efforts to boost morale, but he vowed to communicate to support staffers how much the district appreciates their work.

But to Koerner, the registrar, statements of appreciation mean nothing.

“No more lip service,” she said. “Validate us. Don’t tell me how much you appreciate me. Show me how much you appreciate me.”

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

ad-high_impact_4
News
Who can understand hospital price lists?
Lists of costs for procedures, drugs and devices are now posted the websites of hospitals to comply with a new federal rule designed to provide additional consumer transparency. Good luck figuring out what they mean.
People in Mesquite deal with a massive power outage
People in Mesquite respond to a major power outage in the area on Monday, Jan. 21, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Group helping stranded motorists during power outage
A group of Good Samaritans are offering free gas to people in need at the Glendale AM/PM, during a massive power outage near Mesquite on Monday, Jan. 21, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
U.S. Sen. Jacky Rosen falls at Las Vegas parade
U.S. Sen. Jacky Rosen of Nevada fell and injured her wrist at the Martin Luther King Day parade in Las Vegas on Monday, Jan. 21, 2019. (Nathan Asselin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tate Elementary shows academic progress after categorical funding
Students at Tate Elementary in Las Vegas has benefited from a program to boost education funding in targeted student populations, known as categorical funding. One program called Zoom helps students who have fallen below grade level in reading. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Three Square helps TSA workers
Three Square Food Bank donated over 400 care bags to TSA workers affected by the government shutdown Wednesday, filled with food, personal hygiene products and water.
Las Vegas furniture store donates to Clark County firehouses
Walker Furniture donated new mattresses to all 30 Clark County firehouses in the Las Vegas Valley, starting today with Station 22. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Mount Charleston Gets Heavy Snow, Fog
Mount Charleston saw heavy snow today, and fog in lower elevations as a cold front swept across the Las Vegas Valley. (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Krystal Whipple arrested in Arizona
Krystal Whipple, charged in the killing of a Las Vegas nail salon manager over a $35 manicure, is expected to return to Nevada to face a murder charge.
Holocaust survivor on acceptance
Holocaust survivor Celina Karp Biniaz, who was the youngest person on Schindler’s List, talks about the most important message for people to understand from her life and experiences.
Holocaust survivor speaks about telling her story
Holocaust survivor Celina Karp Biniaz, who was the youngest person on Schindler’s List, tells of opening up about her experiences during Sunday’s event at Temple Sinai.
Jesus Jara State of the Schools address
Clark County School District Superintendent Jesus Jara delivers his State of the Schools address on Friday, Jan. 11, 2019. (Amelia Pak-Harvey/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Michael Naft sworn in to Clark County Commission
Michael Naft, chosen by Gov. Steve Sisolak to be his replacement on the Clark County Commission, was sworn into office on Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019. (Shea Johnson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES Opening Party in Omnia Nightclub at Caesars Palace
CES conventioneers packed Omnia Nightclub at Caesars Palace, and let loose as they danced to DJs into the night. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Las Vegas police piecing together details of fatal shooting
Six hours after the fact, Las Vegas homicide detectives worked to reconstruct the scene of a shooting early Jan. 7 that left one man dead in the southeast valley. (Rio Lacanlale/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dyer Lawrence explains college football playoff system proposal
Las Vegan Dyer Lawrence has a new idea for a college football playoff system that includes a unique scheduling component called National Call Out Day. (Ron Kantowski/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Death row inmate Scott Dozier found dead in his cell
Nevada death row inmate Scott Dozier is dead. Dozier’s death ends his legal odyssey, which began in 2007 when he was convicted in the 2002 murder of Jeremiah Miller, but does little to clarify what’s next for Nevada’s death penalty.
I-15 southbound near Primm closed after ‘major crash’
A rollover crash Saturday morning involving at least nine vehicles on southbound Interstate 15 near Primm caused an hourslong traffic delay. Traffic was backed up to Sloan, live traffic cameras show. (Rio Lacanlale/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Death Valley visitors deal with shutdown
Visitors staying at the Furnace Creek Campground were forced to move from the campground following health and safety concerns due to lack of resources during the partial government shutdown at Death Valley National Park in Calif., on Friday, Jan. 4, 2019. Richard Brian Las Vegas Review-Journal @vegasphotograph
Half of homicides in Henderson for 2018 domestic violence related
Lt. Kirk Moore of the public information office of the city of Henderson police department speaks to the Review-Journal in Henderson, Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019. Henderson saw a slight increase in homicides in the past year. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Governor-elect Steve Sisolak stops by Las Vegas Boys and Girls Club
Governor-elect Steve Sisolak kicks off his tour to Carson City, which will take him from Las Vegas, through Tonopah, and up to the capital city. First stop is the Downtown Boys & Girls Club.
Certificates for renewing wedding vows in Clark County
The Marriage License Bureau in Clark County began issuing a Certificate of Vow Renewal to married couples who are renewing their wedding vows on Jan. 3, 2019. (Shea Johnson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas flu season better than last year (so far)
Dr. Fermin Leguen, chief medical officer and director of clinical services at the Southern Nevada Health District, said there were 24 flu-related deaths at this point in the flu season. No deaths have been reported so far this year. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
The Las Vegas Valley’s First Baby of 2019
The first 2019 baby in the Las Vegas Valley was Melialani Chihiro Manning, born at 12:10 a.m. at Henderson Hospital. (Briana Erickson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas NYE Fireworks - VIDEO
The full show: A spectacular view from the rooftop of the Trump International Hotel as 80,000 pyrotechnics illuminated the Las Vegas Strip at the stroke of midnight. Fireworks by Grucci choreographed launches from the Stratosphere, the Venetian, Treasure Island, Caesars Palace, Planet Hollywood, Aria and MGM Grand.
Snow in Henderson on New Year's Eve morning
Light snow flurries in Anthem Highlands in Henderson on Monday morning, the last day of 2018.
Sources: Henderson Constable may face more charges
Henderson Constable Earl Mitchell may face additional charges ... stemming from his spending of county funds, sources said. Mitchell was indicted earlier this month on five felony theft and fraud charges ... after a Las Vegas Review-Journal story questioned his spending. But grand jury records show even more extensive spending including ... an $800 dinner at steakhouse ... nearly 200 atm withdrawals mostly at gambling establishments ... and even Disneyland tickets. But his attorney plans to ask a judge to dismiss the charges.
Las Vegas NYE Restrictions and Enhanced Security
If you are planning to celebrate New Year's Eve on the Las Vegas Strip or Fremont Street, be aware that you are not allowed to bring backpacks, coolers, strollers or glass. There will also be an increase in security to ensure safe celebrations across town.
Catholic Charities serves up 53rd annual Christmas dinner
Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada and more than 100 volunteers served 1,000 Christmas meals to Southern Nevada's homeless and less fortunate. (K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal @kmcannonphoto)
Henderson couple adds another school to their generosity
Bob and Sandy Ellis of Henderson, who donate to several Clark County School District schools, have added Matt Kelly Elementary in Las Vegas to their list of schools where every student gets new shoes, socks and a toy. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like