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Effect of teacher strike on county, city programs uncertain

Officials in Las Vegas and Clark County, which operate before and after-school programs serving thousands of students, said Tuesday they are closely monitoring a potential teachers strike that may affect the youth enrichment initiatives, Safekey and Ignite.

In Las Vegas, more than 5,600 students participate in both programs, which operate only on days that school is in session, according to city spokesman Jace Radke.

Safekey is offered at 70 elementary schools within the city, providing physical fitness and educational activities as well as arts, crafts, games and nutritious snacks, according to the city. Ignite is the program’s version for middle-school students.

“We are in communication with our jurisdictional partners who provide Safekey in the Las Vegas valley, and are awaiting more information from (Clark County School District Superintendent Jesus Jara),” Radke said in an email.

Late Tuesday, Jara vowed that schools would remain open in the event of a strike, saying, “No child will be turned away from our district. All doors will remain open, regardless of any decision by union leadership.”

In Clark County, the parks and recreation department operates Safekey at 84 elementary schools, serving about 4,500 students but only when school is in session. “We are assessing the situation,” county spokeswoman Stacey Welling said.

The Clark County Education Association, the union representing teachers in the fifth-largest school district in the country, said Tuesday they will mobilize “for the first strike action” on Sept. 10 if the district does not improve its offer regarding salaries and benefits.

It is unclear how exactly a work stoppage might impact the city and county-led programs, or whether prolonging them throughout the day is a viable option to host students suddenly without classes. Officials were cautious not to speculate and warned that it was too early to tell. But talks are underway.

“I do think that we have to be prepared,” Clark County Commission Chairwoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick said. “I don’t know how it works yet. I’m hoping in the next day and a half, we can figure out … the process.”

Kirkpatrick said the county has been in communication with other municipalities and Gov. Steve Sisolak’s office.

“We are working on a local level to ensure that parents have resources in the event that they should need them,” she said.

Contact Shea Johnson at sjohnson@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0272. Follow @Shea_LVRJ on Twitter.

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