Proposal would keep pay raises for teachers

Teachers would get their pay raises — but not cost-of-living raises — for the next fiscal year in a tentative deal reached between the Clark County School District and the teachers union Thursday.

The proposed one-year contract extension still must be ratified by the School Board and union members before it can go into effect.

School district officials and union leaders agreed to keep in place the “step increases” of 2 percent to 4 percent that reward teachers for gaining job experience and advanced degrees.

But teachers would forgo a cost-of-living raise, which is negotiated in contract talks and does not always reflect the actual increase in the cost of living. Last year they received a 4 percent COLA worth about $62 million.

Because of the economic downturn, the Legislature cut funding to the state’s 17 county school districts. The state’s education budget was based on a 4 percent salary decrease for teachers, but discretion was left to the districts on how to manage the equivalent of a $192 million cut.

John Jasonek, executive director of the Clark County Education Association, called the tentative pact “a great accomplishment” amid the school district’s layoffs and state workers’ pay cuts.

But there is one drawback, he said.

“To do this, there will be a little bigger class sizes,” Jasonek said. “It’s certainly not a great day for education.”

Superintendent Walt Rulffes and School Board members said they had to be careful about commenting until the proposed contract comes before them at the June 25 board meeting.

Board President Terri Janison said calling the proposal a tentative agreement when the board has not had a chance to look at it would be premature.

“I need to know where we are in the discussions,” Janison said.

The union’s 13,000 members will have a chance to vote in mid-August on the proposal , Jasonek said.

“I expect overwhelming ratification,” he said.

Contact reporter Scott Wyland at swyland@reviewjournal.com or 702-455-4519.

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