No teachers strike as district says it’s got more money than it thought it did

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CCSD Superintendent Jesus Jara flanked by Gov. Steve Sisolak and CCEA Executive Director John Vellardita ((Photo: Hugh Jackson)

The Clark County School District says it turns out it has more money than it thought it did, and the union says the district has met all its demands.

So there won’t be a teachers strike.

The district and the Clark County Education Association announced the deal at a press conference Wednesday afternoon.

“My CFO and the finance team has been reporting to our board on a monthly basis,” district Superintendent Jesus Jara said. “We have been trending forward, we have been trending better in our finances.” Jara attributed the altered financial picture to “the discipline of my chief executives that have been really fiscally responsible in not filling positions, and also some of the interest earnings that we’ve had.”

Asked if the district always had the money, Jara answered “no, we didn’t.”

Under the deal agreed to Wednesday teachers will get the items the district has already agreed to: a 3 percent raise, costing $37 million in year one; “step increases” approximating $27 million a year; and the district will spend an additional $4.6 million in health care contributions.

The district is also agreeing to what has been the sticking point in negotiations, the teachers union demand for  “column advancements,” raises of around $5,400 that educators can earn investing time and money into professional development.

The cost of meeting that demand is a “variable that we don’t have a great handle on” said district Chief Finance Officer Jason Goudie, because it is not yet clear how many teachers will qualify for the column raises. The district is estimating that cost at between $11 million and $15 million for people who qualify in 2020. The cost after that is “an even larger unknown,” Goudie said.

In an interview, John Vellardita, the executive director of the teachers union, effectively declared victory.

“The issue that needed to be resolved was the column movement, and it was resolved 100 percent to our satisfaction,” Vellardita said.

Both sides were unsure when the deal would be ratified. Vellardita said teachers will wait for the school board to ratify it first.

Hugh Jackson
Editor | Hugh Jackson has been writing about Nevada policy and politics for more than 20 years. He was editor of the Las Vegas Business Press, senior editor at the Las Vegas CityLife weekly newspaper, daily political commentator on the Las Vegas NBC affiliate, and wrote the then-groundbreaking Las Vegas Gleaner, which among other things was the only independent political blog from Nevada that was credentialed at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. He spent a few years as a senior energy and environmental policy analyst for Public Citizen, and has occasionally worked as a consultant on mining, taxation, education and other issues for Nevada labor and public interest organizations. His freelance work has been published in outlets ranging from the Guardian to Desert Companion to In These Times to the Oil & Gas Journal. For several years he also taught U.S. History courses at UNLV. Prior to moving to Las Vegas, he was a reporter and then assistant managing editor at the Casper Star-Tribune, Wyoming’s largest newspaper.

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