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September 23, 2014

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Arbitrator sides with CCSD in contract dispute with teachers

Updated Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013 | 6:08 p.m.

An arbitrator ruled Thursday in favor of the Clark County School District in its contract dispute with the local teachers union, saving the district about $38.6 million over the next two years.

Since the summer, the School District has been fighting the union over concessions to bring back more than 1,000 teaching positions that were cut last year. The district wanted to freeze teacher salaries and stop paying into a health trust for retired teachers.

Arbitrator Jay Fogelberg's decision means salaries for the district's 17,000 teachers will return to 2011-12 levels, saving the district $11.5 million this year and $23 million next year.

The district said it would enact the salary changes beginning with paychecks going out on Feb. 25.

The decision is expected to affect about half of the 17,000 teachers who received pay raises last year; many teachers already were at the peak of the salary step schedule and were not eligible for raises. Teachers are not obligated to pay back any salary step raises they have already received.

Fogelberg also ruled the School District payments into the Teacher Retiree Health Trust were not required this year. The district currently pays an annual fixed allotment of $1.4 million into the fund, along with an additional $12.76 per month per teacher. The decision will save the district about $4.1 million. The district said the trust, which administers health care benefits for qualifying retired teachers, had ample cash reserves and was used by fewer than 200 people.

In addition, Fogelberg waived teachers’ contributions to the retiree health trust for this year. Teachers have been required to pay about $360 annually, or a total of $6.1 million. It is not known if the trust will refund contributions already made this year.

In his decision, Fogelberg argued that budget cuts brought on by the recession have had an adverse impact on Las Vegas students, a statement that "cannot be truly disputed." Staff reductions through the years have caused the district's student-to-teacher ratio – already among the highest in the nation – to climb.

"The budgetary constraints have created teacher-student ratios in Clark County that, by most any form of measurement, have resulted in an evisceration of quality education," Fogelberg wrote in his ruling.

His decision is predicated on the School District's intent to hire more teachers, Fogelberg added.

"This decision is being made with the assumption that their stated goal of hiring more teachers was made in good faith and will now be put into effect," Fogelberg wrote.

Thursday's ruling is binding on both sides and cannot be appealed.

In May 2011, another arbitrator sided with teachers, finding the district had the ability to pay salary step and education increases to its 18,000 teachers. Shortly afterwards, the School District eliminated 1,000 teaching positions to bridge its budget shortfall.

The School District is analyzing how quickly the savings from the arbitration decision will materialize in its books to determine how soon teachers could be hired. It is unknown how the looming federal deficit talks, legislative funding actions and yearly cost increases, such as for fuel, will impact how many teachers will be hired in the end.

"We will make (hiring back teachers) our top priority and make it happen as swiftly as possible," said School District spokeswoman Amanda Fulkerson. "That is our intention."

The district estimates it could reinstate about 415 teaching positions – less than half of those cut last year – as a result of the arbitration ruling, according to the district's chief financial officer Jeff Weiler. Only about 40 percent of the teaching positions lost will be coming back because pay raises that were awarded to teachers cannot be retroactively pulled.

That's the primary reason why this arbitration decision is unlikely to reduce average class sizes districtwide. Additionally, the ruling comes too late in the school year to have any immediate impact to valley class sizes.

The new teachers would go to schools most impacted by the staffing cuts, Fulkerson said.

Clark County Schools Superintendent Dwight Jones said he was relieved with the arbitrator's decision, which he said would "help us balance our budgets."

"This decision supports the district's priority to put more teachers back into classrooms," Jones said in a statement. "Over the past few years, our teachers have shown that they can do more with less. … I am proud of the perseverance they have shown in difficult economic times, and I know they do it because they love our students and want them to succeed."

The Clark County Education Association said it accepts the arbitrator's decision, but argued it does not address "a more systemic problem."

"As long as the Legislature doesn't adequately fund public education, school districts will continue to have challenges to meet the needs of the student population," Vikki Courtney, the union's vice president, said in a statement. "This ruling is a wakeup call for teachers, and it should be one for CCSD and the community. We must work together to ensure legislators take the necessary steps to adequately fund our schools."

Courtney argued the arbitrator's ruling will help the teachers union make their case before the Legislature for its tax proposal, which would levy a 2 percent margins tax on businesses making more than $1 million a year, after deductions for payroll and other expenses.

While the union was defeated in arbitration, it may ultimately win support for its tax initiative in the Legislature. Lawmakers have fewer than 40 days to vote on the margins tax; if it fails in Carson City, the proposal will head to voters in 2014.

"This is a chance to look forward," Courtney said. "We are ready to take this to our members and fight for more funding for education."

The School District is also advocating for more funding but has not made a public statement about the union's margin tax proposal. The district is pushing this legislative session to change Nevada's formula for funding its 17 school districts. Historically, Clark County has received less than its fair share of per-pupil funding, officials said.

"At some point, less just becomes less," Jones said in a statement. "Our state has some difficult funding decisions ahead to continue improvement of student achievement in the Clark County School District. We cannot continue to cut and ask employees to do more with less."

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  1. So, we can now expect to see a massive push by CCSD to hire more teachers and fill those 1000 cut positons. I guess that means our class sizes will be going down.

  2. Tanker, you were bragging months back about how they would not need to fire 1000 and how you told us so when they didn't fire 1000 either.

    So to answer your question: No. Not necessary. No one was fired. So no one needs to be hired.

    Only your pay has to decrease.

    Oh. An barrack still makes tons of cash digging your dirt and selling it putting the money in their pocket.

  3. While Jones is contracting others for $250,000 annually he is happy that teachers salaries are cut? He is a failure, Clark County children do not deserve this. Wake up School Board!

  4. tbvegas,

    Teachers are paid for 7 hours and 11 minutes per day. For example, my contracted hours are from 6:50 until 2:01. That is all I am paid for. If I work 10 hours per day, I am paid for 7 hours and 11 minutes. If, however, I only work half a day, I am only paid for half a day.

    What MooGooGaiDan is talking about is called "working to the contract". In other words, teachers would work exactly what is called for in their contract-- for 7 hours and 11 minutes.

    You wouldn't work for free, why should teachers?

  5. tbvegas,

    I work 12 months a year to serve the children of Clark County. I work an "annual" job, pay my taxes, and have committed years of my life to my education-- all so I can work for far less than an individual with my education could earn in the private sector.

    Why do I do it? Because I actually care about our future and our children. No teacher I know is in it for the money. I've bought classroom supplies for my students, I've bought students lunch when they've needed it, and I've even supplied a computer for a student in need.

    I don't need you to tell me that I'm doing a good job, and I don't care if you think I'm a lazy blood sucker who is only interested in money. I know (and my students know) my worth. I'm guessing you haven't set foot in a classroom since high school, and have no earthly idea what goes on there. Maybe if this community supported its teachers, both in and out of the classroom, our children would get the education they deserve!

  6. The reason I am discouraged - there is money in this state. There is enough gold in Nevada to attract international miners but not enough gold to adequately fund our schools? When polled people are willing to pay for a real education - but they are discouraged too -- when schools seem to fail.

  7. There is money for our students. But it's not getting to the classroom and it's distracting to see where and how it's spent on pet programs like: TFA, The New Teacher Project, Edison, and private schools on the government dole (aka charters). We are willing to spend twice, three times, or four times the money on these corporations or privatizers with bright ideas -- but revoke pay from people actually in the classroom? And promise to hire more people who will be abused too? Who wants to work in a system that treats it's labor this way? I'm worried.

    We are willing to sell our public schools and privatize everything in sight even though the research and history tells us the the business model has never worked -- and will never work -- in a system that is about fairness and equality rather than competition. Schools aren't meant to turn a profit - they are an expense. And anyone who tells you different is selling snake oil.

    We cannot continue on this path of failing our kids, starving our schools financially, and cutting teacher pay to meet budgets. There is only so much a teacher can do or really has control over. I will continue to be a school teacher even if they take it all. But -- it's not fair to promise professionals pay and benefits and then yank them away because of poor planning on someone else's part.

    I tire of a rigged system that raises the bar to a rigor level that fails almost everyone and then blames the person who has the least control over the system - the labor in the classroom. I know when the game is stacked. I know when Im being set up to fail. Taking my pay shows me exactly what the priorities of the district and the community have become. I will survive the loss of the money; I am angry about the unfairness of the reform and testing movement that is convincing the public Im worthless and deserve this loss. Enough is enough.

    I have lived in Nevada most of my life. I'm a native. I grew up in the Nevada that funded schools near the top in the nation and I personally received an excellent public education here for K-12 and later at the University level. It's with dispair that I have watch a great public school system dissolve. I feel like people have been brought here to participate for a short time in the killing of our public schools. They will leave. And this pulbic school teacher who grew up in Nevada will be left standing without pay or benefits in a pile of ash that used to be Nevada's Public Schools. And when I drive home to Winnemucca to visit my family - I will see the miners from China, Japan, England, and Canada waving their flag on top of their Nevada mines where they are allowed to take bars of gold and rare minerals out of the ground and pay nothing.

    God help us all. Please help us fight to right these wrongs in a state filled with gold and children that deserve better.

  8. Another step backwards...

    The continous cycle of treating teachers like second-class citizens is second nature here in the desert. As long as teachers take the brunt of the blame & continue to lose out financially, the 'best & brightest' will look elsewhere to ply their chosen trade...I realize some of you just don't care, but it does not bode well for the future of Nevada.
    It's downright farcical, senseless, counter-intuitive, counter-productive and SHAMEFUL.
    But then, many people here do not shame easily.

  9. In order to improve education in Nevada, a great many things are necessary, but first and foremost is a culture shift in the state that places a premium on education. The citizens of the state must change the mindset and cultural values about education to recognize that it is important and vital to the economic growth and development of the state. We have to move past the belief from years ago that "I can quit school, go to work as (fill in the blank) on the strip and make bank. I don't need an education." This lack of emphasis on education has allowed our elected leaders to kick the can down the road and not reform the tax structure, and more importantly the funding structure for both K-12 and higher education to reflect that importance. We have been stuck for way too long with the rhetoric of "no new taxes" no matter what. The mantra of "low taxes and businesses will come" has proven to be an unacknowledged failure for years. The political, economic, and cultural leaders of this state have failed in their duties to serve the people of the Nevada and more importantly the children of our state. A story appeared about 7 students in Nevada winning a National Merit Scholarship. The bad news, only one of the 7 was going to stay in state, and given the past history the others will probably never return. That is a brain drain that can never be made up.

    The legislature, the governor, and the citizens of Nevada have been sold a bill of goods about education reform. The legislature bought the idea of changing teacher evaluations is "education reform". The citizens of Nevada bought the idea that the legislature was "reforming education" by changing seniority as the sole criteria for retaining teachers. The public was sold a bill of goods that everything that was wrong with education was the teacher's fault. If you get rid of the "bad teachers", the results will improve. The only flaw with that argument is that a means already exists in the contracts to get rid of "bad teachers". It required administrators to do their job, document properly and get rid of the "bad teacher." The only problem was that the "reformers" felt that a "bad teacher" was the older, more experienced, and the more expensive teacher. The argument was that a younger, more energetic teacher, with less experience, and much less expensive could replace the older teacher. In fact, you could get two teachers for the price of one. The only problem is nobody can precisely define what a "bad teacher" looks like.

  10. The parents of the students in Nevada have also contributed to the crisis in education. Many parents, for whatever reason, aren't taking an active interest in their child's education. Students aren't told that education is important, or asked about school and what they learned that day. Parents use the TV as a baby-sitter during those crucial early childhood years that set the table for academic success later. Parents aren't checking the homework assigned to their children or requiring it be done before the computer, X-box, etc. is used, and send a horrible message about the importance of school when they call or text their students during school hours, and get upset when the student doesn't answer because the district policy says the use of electronic devices during school hours is not allowed.
    Some of the responsibility for the state of education in Nevada rests with the students as well. They attend school, but don't apply themselves and think that just because they show up, they should pass and get a diploma. The idea of do working or solving a problem that requires more than two steps is "too much work". It is much easier to copy the answer and not understand why the answer is the way it is. There is no incentive to pass the High School Proficiency Exams. The district policy allows a student to walk across the stage at graduation, even if they have not passed those exams. Parents don't understand the difference between a diploma and a certificate of attendance. During one of the "Reclaim your future" drives to get kids back to school, one administrator went into a home and saw a certificate of attendance hanging in a place of honor. Many students, even the ones from economically disadvantaged homes have I-phones, designer shoes and clothes. They have an attitude that they should be given everything, and don't have to work to get ahead.

  11. The last group that shares part of the blame is the professional educators in Nevada. We have not stood up for what we know is the best practice. We have allowed our voices to be gradually stilled and become content with the status quo. We have accepted the new and additional requirements that don't help students learn. We have continued to make do with less and less. We have become comfortable with the way things are and don't feel that one voice can make a difference. We have not insisted that we be treated and valued as any other professional member of the community. We have accepted the statements that "we work part time, and don't have a real job", and not insisted that those statements are not true. We have accepted the premise that we don't have an important role in society, and don't make a valuable contribution to the community.
    There is more than enough blame to share, the real issue is how do we as residents of Nevada change the current situation, and move things forward, giving our children an education that will qualify them for the jobs of the 21st Century.
    The tax structure and the funding of schools MUST be changed to give schools the resources they need to fully implement the changes in Common Core State Standards. Teachers need to be given the ability to teach what students need to know, and to insure that students are ready to learn the material in the next grade before they are promoted. Teachers need to be held accountable for the results their students achieve, but students need to be held accountable as well.

  12. If you are going to institute true education reform, why do we have a school calendar that is the same as we had over a hundred years ago? No other industrialized country in the world gives their students three months off during the summer. Many countries have a longer school year, shorter breaks, and a longer school day. In many countries, students are tracked into several paths depending on their ability and skills. That may be something that Nevada needs to look at in order to develop a more diversified work force.
    The bottom line is that all of the stake holders, parents, teachers, administrators, students, political and social leaders need to stop playing the blame game. Instead, we need to have intelligent, realistic conversations about the goals that we want to have for education in Nevada. We need to roll up our sleeves, put down the non-productive rhetoric, and begin to talk about what we see as the future of education in Nevada. The work is too important. Failure is NOT an option.

  13. I just took my neighbor, who is a teacher, to get a shot yesterday. Because they didn't want her driving home afterwards.

    So, I had the time and volunteered to take her.

    Her health coverage didn't include the shot.

    She paid for it out of pocket.

    Shame on you people who blame teachers and their unions for everything. You have no clue what they do and what sacrifices they put forth for the children they teach.

    You only see what you want to see.

    Again, I say shame on everyone all the way up to our State Government that transfers all the ills of society on teachers.

    I contend they are the lifeblood of the Sovereign State of Nevada ever getting anywhere, as well as the youth getting ahead.

    Shame.

    Turn this around.

    For years and years now this State that I love has decided that the kids don't need pens and pencils. Only knives and handguns.

    With that thinking, don't be surprised if you see way more prisons being constructed. And less schools.

    Again, I say to each and every one of the politicians in this State that I love, don't matter which side of the aisle, SHAME ON YOU ALL! For turning your backs on the teachers and the children they teach to the best of their abilities.

  14. Most of the leachers posting here, I mean teachers posting here talk so much no one listens. You want to know why you can't get improvement here. It's because of the high content of self serving teachers like the ones posting here that are so concerned with making more, taking more, getting more, spending more..... That they can't get the concept of us expecting a little more for it. We as the public have delivered over the decades. Your turn!

    Until test scores improve, keep complaining about Barrick, your Heath trust, your contract and whatever you want. We ain't listening. Type all you want!

  15. Tanker,

    Why aren't you talking about SJR15?

  16. Comment removed by moderator. Off Topic

  17. Your link to Barrick didn't work, Tanker. I looked up Barrick's income statement. In 2012 they had revenues of $14B, paid $4 billion in taxes, and had net profits of $4.5B. In 2011 they made $3.5B, and in 2010 they LOST $4 billion. CVS and Walgreen's normally have profits of $3-4 billion annually--are you going to blame them for CCSD budget cuts too? You're spot on, TB--the teachers here can cut and paste all they want--I'm not going to read their posts again. The teachers here think they deserve more money while the USA is going broke. I can't wait to see the upcoming "Frontline" about the budget crisis.

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/...

    http://www.stock-analysis-on.net/NYSE/Co...

  18. Since the impetus is to bring MORE teachers back into the classroom with this arbitrator's ruling, then CCSD MUST be held accountable to do just that. The words are "teachers in classrooms," not hiring more administrators who are not in the classroom teaching students day in, day out (which in the last couple years, we have seen exponential growth of administrative positions in the district).

    The statement, "The district estimates it could reinstate about 415 teaching positions -- less than half of those cut last year -- as a result of the arbitration ruling, according to the district's chief financial officer Jeff Weiler." leads us to believe that CCSD WILL use this decision towards staffing teachers alone, so we all must follow what they ACTUALLY do, what happens.

    Nevada is in bad shape due to an antiquated tax structure that no longer serves it well. The Nevada State Lawmakers MUST address the Constitution and make the needed changes. Mining should be REQUIRED to pay an average of what it pays in taxes to the other 49 states in the union to be FAIR with the People and State of Nevada.

    For decades, career politicians have received generous campaign support from the MINING industry. It is time for the Nevada State infrastructure to receive proper support as well.

    Nevada Lawmakers also need to put ENforcement teeth in the PARENT/TEACHER/STUDENT INVOLVEMENT ACCORD. Last legislative session, administrators and teachers were addressed by creating a new evaluation. But what about holding accountable the very people who are ultimately responsible---the PARENTS AND STUDENTS?

    Without proper support from the parent or caregiver, the student will NOT thrive, will NOT succeed, and likely NOT graduate. Without the commitment from the student, little good, let alone increasing their own enlightenment, will happen. ENforcing the ACCORD with the parents and students will mean we have ALL parties on the right track towards success. You cannot just hold the school and educators alone accountable for anyone's educational success, it just doesn't happen that way.

    Blessings and Peace,
    Star

  19. @ Manfromuncle. The businesses you mentioned don't make a majority of their profit in Nevada. Barrick Mining does.

    This is a link to the 2011 Annual Report. It will also show you the earlier Annual Reports.

    http://www.barrick.com/investors/annual-...

  20. Mr. Fogelberg seems to have some reasoning ability. Is he new to the area? Now what about that 10% pay cut that the rest of us have had to take, those of us who are still working?

  21. @Roslenda. The pay scale for CCSD employees is set in the union contracts and can't be changed unless it is negotiated. Teachers have not had a change to the pay scale since 2008. The only movement on the pay scale has been to education or service. A teacher with a bachelors degree tops out at 5 years, and a teacher with a masters degree tops out at 9 years.

  22. The teachers in Clark County get what they deserve. It's all about the money to them it's not a love to teach anymore. I know teachers with masters degrees that are book smart but dumb as a crayon, and they want more money just for thier degree. Pooey.

  23. Teachers had a contract with the school district that said that if they obtained a certain amount of extra education, they would receive a certain amount of money in salary. In what world do we not honor legal contracts? Sure seems like some of you think that teachers should work for free.

  24. @Fedup2here. What do you think a fair salary for a teacher with a bachelors degree should be? What about a teacher with a master's degree? That is as much education as a lawyer or an engineer has. Please share with us your thoughts.