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CCSD will use $250M allocation to boost support staff salaries; teacher raises unclear

In contrast with union and lawmaker hopes, many districts want to treat the funds as a one-time bonus rather than commit it to permanent salary increases.
Rocio Hernandez
Rocio Hernandez
Jacob Solis
Jacob Solis
EducationK-12 Education

The Clark County School District (CCSD) announced Wednesday that it would tap a $250 million legislative matching fund as part of a deal to boost support staff salaries in the next two years — but held firm on a position not to use the same fund to raise teacher salaries if the teachers union doesn’t agree to sunset the extra money in 2025. 

Approved through SB231 this year, the $250 million was touted by Democrats — who control the Legislature — as a way to bump teacher and support staff pay through the bargaining process, which is otherwise untethered from the legislative budgeting process. 

But in negotiations between CCSD and the Clark County Education Association (CCEA), the state’s largest teachers union, the district has repeatedly argued that it cannot use the SB231 funding for permanent salary increases without risking a fiscal cliff once the money runs out in 2025.

“The district maintains that any use of the funds must include a sunset clause that matches the sunset clause of June 30, 2025, in SB231, like the Carson City School District and other districts across the state,” the Clark County School District said Wednesday in a statement not attributed to a specific person. “Unlike funding for the Pupil-Centered Funding Plan (PCFP), there is no statutory assurance that SB231 funds will continue beyond June 30, 2025, by the Nevada Legislature.” 

By contrast, CCSD’s announcement on Wednesday said the district had agreed to terms with the support staff unions, the Education Support Employees Association and Teamsters Local 14, that include a June 30, 2025, sunset clause for the extra money. 

That agreement includes the use of 66 percent of CCSD’s expected SB231 allotment (about $170 million to $180 million) on salaries for licensed professionals, who include teachers. Any amount would still be subject to approval by the Interim Finance Committee, a panel of lawmakers tasked with making state spending decisions when legislators are out of session. 

The district also lauded a recent memorandum by the Legislative Counsel Bureau effectively expanding the net of employees covered by the “education support professionals” label to include the widest number of employees, excluding only administrators, such as police officers, bus drivers and food service employees working out of central locations, rather than individual schools. 

CCEA said in an emailed statement to The Nevada Independent it stands firm on its position that SB231 funds should be used for significant salary increases for teachers. 

A woman dressed in a Clark County Education Association shirt listens while Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro, (D-Las Vegas) speaks during a news conference inside Grant Sawyer Building on Wednesday,Aug. 2, 2023. (Jeff Scheid/The Nevada Independent)

The fight over ‘one-time’ dollars

For weeks, CCSD officials have argued that the money provided by SB231 cannot be used to boost teacher pay in the long term, in large part because there is no guarantee that lawmakers will decide to continue appropriating that money in legislative sessions to come. 

“Should future lawmakers decide to continue funding education-related staff in this manner in the next session, that will be their choice,” the district’s statement said. “Still, CCSD will not jeopardize its finances based on the expressed hopes of CCEA and the legislators who wish it were so … While some lawmakers are urging the district to negotiate on their intentions, CCSD must base its commitments on the reality of the law as written.”

The comments come after several top Democrats have publicly criticized CCSD for its handling of the SB231 money. That includes an Aug. 2 press conference during which Democratic leaders told reporters that the money was designed to create “substantial raises” and that the matching fund ought to be viewed like any other appropriation made for the two-year budget cycle. 

“We, as a Legislature, budget for the biennium,” Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro (D-Las Vegas) said at the time. “So the idea that somehow this money just isn’t available in the future is a ridiculous argument for not providing raises that are owed to teachers and support staff that are in the classrooms every single day.” 

Despite the school district’s concerns, the teachers union has remained steadfast in its demands for the upcoming contract. Those include: 

  • An 18 percent increase over the next two years 
  • An additional $5,000 salary increase for all educators at certain schools with high numbers of vacancies and hard to fill positions
  • A 5 percent increase for special education teachers 
  • An increase of 1.5 times a teacher’s salary for all hours worked after contract time; a salary increase for coaches
  • Addressing class sizes and caseloads
  • A sick leave buy back proposal 
  • An increase in the district’s contribution to teacher health care costs
  • Adjustments to teachers’ salary schedule. 

The school district has shared in previous statements it has proposed a 10.5 percent pay increase for licensed educators over the next two years. This would increase its starting salary from about $50,000 to $53,000. In addition, the school district is proposing reforming teachers’ salary schedule to “realign teachers hired after August 2016 based on their years of service and education.” CCSD said this would result in pay increases for more than 3,300 employees. CCSD has also offered pay increases for coaches, club advisers and certain teachers with students with special needs. 

The school district said it's also willing to contribute an additional approximately $14 million in contributions to the licensed educators health care plan, Teachers Health Trust, in 2023-2024 and an additional approximately $7.7 million in 2024-2025. 

The tug-of-war between the union and the school district over proposed teacher pay increases has soured negotiations between them, with the union threatening to take yet-to-be determined “work actions” against CCSD to apply pressure. 

Already a union protest has interrupted the Aug. 10 Clark County School Board meeting and led to the pause of a series of community events with Superintendent Jesus Jara. Other smaller protests have cropped up at individual school sites.

Concerned that these CCEA’s work actions could lead to a strike, which is illegal for public employees under state law, the school district filed a lawsuit to try block a potential strike before it begins. But on Tuesday, a judge denied the school district’s request for an injunction, saying there wasn’t enough evidence that suggested a strike would occur unless she enjoined the union. 

The ruling came days before a Saturday CCEA meeting where members will vote on whether to take work actions. 

Humboldt County School District Superintendent Dr. Dave Jensen during his presentation to a joint meeting of the Assembly Committee on Ways and Means and Senate Committee on Finance at the Legislature on March 25, 2023 in Carson City. (David Calvert/The Nevada Independent)

How other school districts are approaching SB231 funds 

Lyon County Superintendent Wayne Workman said his school district is taking a cautious approach on SB231 funds, and agrees with CCSD’s concerns on using them for ongoing expenses such as permanent pay raises. 

“The worst that can happen is that it compounds exponentially over time so all of a sudden, whatever increases given, if that is not guaranteed money from the Legislature after this biennium, then the district is in the hole — like it would put every single school district in the red,” he said. 

The Lyon County School District has finished crafting a tentative bargaining agreement with its teachers union, the Lyon County Education Association, that is pending ratification from the union members and approval from its school board. 

But Workman said he expects that agreement with teachers will have similar sunset language to language included a recently approved contract with the district’s support staff union. That states that any compensation boosts that will be funded through SB231 funds the district could receive end July 1, 2025, unless extended by the Legislature, similar to what CCSD is doing with its negotiations with support staff. 

“We didn't write in an actual percentage,” Workman said. “It was just treating it as if, ‘Hey, this is a bonus, we'll apply for it, whatever we're able to get is what we'll pass on to you.”

That bonus would be in addition to a 14.5 percent raise over the next two years already included in the new contract with LCCSEA.

Humboldt County Superintendent Dave Jensen said his school district took a similar approach in the completed contract negotiations with the unions representing teachers and support staff, and treating it similar to how it would grant funding. 

“Certainly, there is the potential for our legislators to extend these available funds beyond the current biennium, however, there is also no guarantee,” Jensen said. “Had the $250 million been added into the PCFP formula, I believe there would be much less concern about the ability to continue the associated increase over time.”


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