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School district unions split over proposals to avoid layoffs

Clark County School District employee unions appear to be divided on what they are willing to sacrifice to avoid potential layoffs as the school system confronts a possible $120 million reduction in state funding next year.

Last week, members of the Education Support Employees Association told district administrators during an informal meeting that they would consider working fewer hours or reducing wages. The union itself has made no commitment.

"You have to remember, people are really scared for their jobs right now," said ESEA President Bo Yealy, whose union represents bus drivers, teacher aides and other support staff. "The worst part of it is that the kids are going to be the worst off. Nevada has to really step up."

Members of ESEA made their suggestions after Superintendent Walt Rulffes gave a presentation on budget cuts. He also has informally approached unions about the possibility of spreading out next year’s raises over more than one year.

Spreading out the raises due just to principals could save the district $2.3 million next year, Rulffes said.

He also has asked about administrators’ willingness to take a day off without pay. Giving the administrator association members a day off without pay could save an additional $560,000.

"I have had administrators say they would be willing to do this," Rulffes said Tuesday. "The idea came to me from people who felt an obligation to help the fiscal crisis."

The Clark County Association of School Administrators, which represents principals and central administrators, has said, "No."

CCASA Executive Director Stephen Augspurger said he understands Rulffes’ position but that the employee contracts were negotiated in good faith.

The ESEA and the Clark County Education Association, which represents district teachers, has not yet responded. CCEA Executive Director John Jasonek said nothing has been formalized and that he would have to go back to the union membership before responding.

"I don’t negotiate in the media," Jasonek said.

Rulffes said he did not ask teachers or support staff to consider a day off without pay because most of them don’t work 12-month schedules.

He also did not want to sacrifice instructional time in the classroom.

The superintendent acknowledged the unions’ point of view too.

"I recognize we have contract obligations," Rulffes said. "I also ask people to recognize we have a financial crisis."

Contact reporter James Haug at jhaug@reviewjournal.com or 702-799-2922.

 

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