Teachers rally for end to salary freeze

This month, teachers from across the county hit the streets before a symbolic day — payday. On Oct. 9, more than 800 teachers from 32 schools, along with 100 parents, rallied in front of their schools to send a clear message to the Board of Trustees to end the latest teacher pay freeze, restore their PERs retirement system, adopt a competitive salary schedule, and foster a culture of respect for their often-maligned profession.

More schools and teachers are set to protest before or after their contracted employment times on Oct. 23, a week before payday. The Clark County Education Association has 75 RSVPs so far and hopes to have at least a hundred schools participate that day.

Then on payday Oct. 30, a community-wide rally is planned for 11 a.m. in front of The Venetian, tagged #HitTheStrip4PubEd. The public is welcome and encouraged to come and support teachers at any of the upcoming rallies.

Back in June, CCSD announced its decision to eliminate all salary increases in its attempt to fill a $67 million budget shortfall for the 2015-2016 school year. Over the past few months, the union and the school district met many times but still failed to agree. After eight failed attempts, either side can declare an impasse. CCEA has asked for an arbitrator to settle the contract.

The current teacher pay scale starts at about $35,000 a year and goes up to $72,000. The union wants starting pay raised by $5,000 and to scale upward to $90,000, a proposal that would cost the District $70 million. The District’s counter-proposal would only cost $26 million, and while it does start teachers at $40,000, it caps them out at $78,000, only $6,000 more than where it is now.

The District has also been grappling with a severe teacher shortage. By early October, it hired 1,817 new teachers for the 2,600 vacancies it had this school year. The bulk of those vacancies are staffed by long-term substitute teachers. This is in the face of yet another record enrollment year in CCSD. This month, we have 320,040 total students, 2,000 more than we had at this time last year. And 10,000 more than we had five years ago.

Recruiting isn’t the only issue, retention also plays a big part of the teacher crisis. According to an Aug. 21 article by Ian Whittaker in the Las Vegas Sun, teachers are leaving the District — and the profession — by droves: “More than 1,600 CCSD teachers quit the profession this past school year, up by about 600 over the past five years. Only around a third of those are due to retirements. Yearly resignations count for 6 percent of the total number of licensed teachers in the district.”

The following schools participated in the Oct. 9 rally across the District: Arbor View HS, Bailey MS, Cram MS, Culley ES, Durango HS, Herron ES, Fertitta MS, Fong ES, Fremont MS, Fyfe ES, Gibson MS, Johnston MS, KO Knudson SM, Robert E. Lake ES, Las Vegas Academy HS, Martinez  ES, Orr MS, Palo Verde HS, Piggot ES, Ronzone ES, Sandy Miller ES, Shadow Ridge HS, Silverado HS, Silvestri JHS, Spring Valley HS, Stanford ES, Tartan ES, Valley HS, WCTA HS, Wilhelm ES, Wengert ES, Wolff ES.

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