weather icon Clear

Educators decry COLA delay plan

Local education leaders over the weekend denounced a proposal by legislators to delay paying out cost-of-living increases to state employees, including teachers.

“It seems like teachers are treated like an underclass when it comes to compensation,” Clark County School District Superintendent Walt Rulffes said Sunday.

He said teachers will unfairly shoulder the brunt of cuts if the Legislature delays cost-of-living increases.

“K-12 clearly takes the biggest hit because it has the largest work force,” he said.

Repealing the cost-of-living adjustment would save the state $130 million in lawmakers’ efforts to combat the state’s unprecedented budget shortfall, which is approaching $1 billion.

Clark County Education Association President Mary Ella Holloway, whose union represents more than 13,000 local educators, called the idea “absolutely abominable.”

“I’m afraid of it,” Holloway said Saturday. “It’s going to send a lot of teachers out of Clark County.”

Starting teachers with families already make so little that some could qualify to receive reduced or free lunches, Holloway said, referring to a federal program for low-income students. She said Nevada’s per-pupil spending trails that of most other states.

But there might be some debate over the legality of repealing raises for teachers.

Teachers’ unions negotiate such increases through contracts with school districts, not with the state, Holloway said, asserting that the Legislature lacks the authority to repeal the increase.

“We firmly believe that the law is on our side with these negotiated contracts,” she said.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno, said last week he is drafting a bill to repeal the COLAs for state and university employees and schoolteachers because he wants to avoid layoffs.

Sen. Bob Beers, R-Las Vegas, agreed.

“I believe we have no choice but to immediately postpone the COLAs for our state employees,” Beers said Friday. “We are to the point where the choice is to give substantial pay increases, totaling nearly 10 percent for most public employees, or lay some public employees off.”

Raggio said if state revenues start to climb, the Legislature can restore the pay increases when it meets in February.

Rulffes said that the district struggles to keep teachers and that delaying the cost-of-living increases will exacerbate the district’s teacher shortfall.

He said the district is short more than 100 math teachers for the upcoming school year.

“Teachers are very anxious about this,” Rulffes said. “If a teacher is kind of on the bubble with regards to leaving, this would drive them away.”

Rulffes added that about 12,000 district teachers will be eligible for 3 percent to 5 percent pay raises, called step increases, as they gain experience and attain additional educational credentials. Those increases are separate from the cost-of-living raises legislators might delay, Rulffes said.

Gibbons is expected this week to introduce the proclamation calling for a special five-day session of the Legislature to hammer out a solution to the budget crisis.

Reporter Antonio Planas contributed to this report. Contact reporter Lawrence Mower at lmower@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0440.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
Bernie Sanders Unveils Affordable Housing Plan - Video
Bernie Sanders sits down with the Las Vegas Review-Journal to talk about his new affordable housing plan he unveiled at Plumbers & Pipefitters.
Jim Marchant talks gun control and Dreamers - Video
Republican Candidate for District 4 Jim Marchant talks about gun control and immigration policies. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Hurricanes, Gender, and Science in the Press
Imagine if the mainstream media’s current hurricane-sized obsession with scientific accuracy applied to gender.
Cory Booker on college tuition and minimum wage
Cory Booker talks on the RJ Politics podcast about college debt, informing workers about their rights and livable wages.
Nevada Politics Today: Teacher raises - VIDEO
Jason Goudie, the chief financial officer for the Clark County School District, talks about teacher pay and raises. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Media's Double Standard On Incitement And Trump - Video
Over the weekend, an Elizabeth Warren-supporting socialist who opposed gun violence used a rifle to commit a mass murder in Dayton, Ohio. The media has downplayed that aspect of the tragedy.
Project Our Care Tour Kicks Off In Las Vegas
U.S. Rep. Dina Titus joined health care advocates and local residents as part of Protect Our Care’s nationwide bus tour kick off in Las Vegas on Monday, August 5, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders talks about guns, response to El Paso shooting
Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke about his response and continued policy ideas about guns and gun control to the Review-Journal after a panel of other topics. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pete Buttigieg On Gun Control And Climate Change - Video
Pete Buttigieg talks about his campaign for the 2020 election and how Nevada is a vision of what the future can be.
Beto O'Rourke speaks in Las Vegas
Presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke spoke to supporters at the East Las Vegas Community Center in Las Vegas, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2019. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former Nevada Senate leader Kelvin Atkinson sentenced to prison
Former Nevada Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson, who pleaded guilty to misusing campaign funds, was sentenced to 27 months in prison on Thursday, July 18, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trumps Strength is also a Weakness - Video
One of Donald Trump’s greatest strengths — his ability to shape national narratives — is also a great weakness.
Tax the Rich Bus Tour makes a stop in Las Vegas - Video
The Tax the Rich Bus has stopped in Las Vegas as part of its summer tour. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ - Video
Assembly Woman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ to bring the community together to hear about the candidates up for election and for people to gather and have fun.
Democrat Virtual Caucus - Video
Elizabeth Warren visits Las Vegas
Senator Elizabeth Warren made a campaign stop at the East Las Vegas Community Center on Tuesday July 2, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Aaron Ford Speaks About Bill AB431
AB431 is a bill sponsored by Nevada Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson to restore the right to vote for formerly incarcerated individuals. Attorney General Aaron Ford spoke at the AM&E Church in North Las Vegas about the bill, on Monday, July 1, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Right Take: Biden's Racially Questionable Comments
Joe Biden has uttered racially charged statements for years. Now that he’s the frontrunner for the Democrat presidential nomination, he may finally face prolonged scrutiny for them.
Christopher Rufo Discusses Homelessness In The USA - VIDEO
Christopher Rufo discusses homelessness in the United States and how politicians can work to improve conditions for those with drug addictions.
Trump aides heading to Nevada Basque Fry

Several current and former aides to President Donald Trump are headed to the annual Basque Fry, an event sponsored by former Republican Attorney General Adam Laxalt.