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Teachers’ Union Wins Arbitration

By Sandy Vigil

The contract impasse between the Clark County Education Association (CCEA) and the Clark County School District (CCSD) was settled on Wednesday, May 2, 2012. Arbitrator Phil Tamoush ruled that CCSD has to pay teachers for the current school year and for the 2012-2013 school year according to their years of experience and education levels as laid out in the salary schedule adopted by both parties in 2009. Teachers’ salaries were frozen for the 2010-2011 school year. The district had been asking the teachers to close a $63 million budget gap by agreeing to a 2-year pay freeze ending June of 2013.
The arbitrator’s ruling also protects teachers’ rights to due process in the event of a Reduction in Force. Future rate increases to the Public Employees’ Retirement System previously would have been negotiated with CCEA prior to taking payroll deductions instead of reducing pay with little advance notice as CCSD did July 1, 2011.
The Clark County School District has responded to the arbitrator’s ruling by announcing imminent teacher lay-offs. The exact number of teachers who will receive pink slips is unknown until CCSD has a better idea of how many teachers will retire or resign. The district’s website states the budget will have to be assessed to conclude how many lay offs will be needed in order to present a balanced budget on May 16th.
CCSD’s website quotes Superintendent Dwight D. Jones as saying, “My priority is keeping teachers in classrooms. This decision puts us right back where we started, with a $40 million deficit for the upcoming school year and with tough decisions that just got tougher.” On the same website, the budget shortfall is listed as $63 million. Both a judge and an arbitrator examined the district’s financial records and found an end-year fund balance of $71 million. CCEA contends this year-end balance demonstrates that teacher lay-offs are not needed.