Reopening schools while cutting budgets won’t work, teachers’ union says

coronavirus and the classroom
(Photo by Alexandra_Koch at Pixabay)

Nevada’s largest teachers’ union had a message for the Clark County School District and the Nevada Legislature Tuesday: The district’s plan to reopen during a pandemic is sure to fail unless state lawmakers provide schools with more resources.

The CCSD board is scheduled to vote Thursday night on a plan to reopen schools in Clark County. The proposal includes a combination of in-person and distance learning with classes held for different cohorts of students on different days, a scenario that has pleased hardly anyone.

Gov. Steve Sisolak has repeatedly said that procedures for reopening schools will be made by individual school districts.

In a statement Tuesday, the Clark County Education Association pushed back against that approach as unreasonable and, given current funding levels, let alone K-12 budget cuts Sisolak has proposed, unworkable.

We believe the reopening of the schools in Nevada is a State issue not an issue to be punted to the local and underfunded school districts,” the union said. “It is the State that is the principal source of resources. And it is resources that are critical to make any reopening plan successful.”

“Accordingly, unless the Governor addresses the key issues with resources in reopening the Clark County School District in this upcoming Special Session, CCEA cannot sign off on CCSD’s current plan as it stands and will support every educator and parent who chooses not to participate in the reopening of CCSD.” 

In addition to personal protective equipment, comprehensive COVID testing and tracing and other safety measures, the union demands that parents should have a choice between five days a week in the classroom, or five days a week of distance learning. The same choice should be afforded teachers as well, CCEA said.

The governor’s office released budget cut proposals Monday totaling $133 million from K-12 education. The governor’s office did not identify any specific tax increases in the proposal except to say if there are any, they should be limited to augmenting existing revenue sources, not creating new ones.

Noting the constitutional requirement that any tax increase must be approved by two-thirds of both houses of the Legislature, the document from the governor’s office also put the onus for any initiative to increase taxes on legislators. If the Legislature “is able to move a revenue package forward” with the requisite two thirds, the document said, “the Governor is willing to consider the legislation.”

The special session of the Legislature begins Wednesday.

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.