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Clark County schools boosting starting teacher pay by 17 percent, to above $50,000

Jannelle Calderon
Jannelle Calderon
Education
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The Clark County School District is raising starting teacher pay from $43,000 to more than $50,115, implementing the first entry-level pay hike since 2015 as the district faces a high vacancy rate and educators struggle with meeting expenses amid rapid inflation.

Asked later about the statement that this was the first starting teacher salary increase since 2015, a district spokesperson clarified that pay had not been raised more than the average cost of living increase of 3 percent since 2015.

Superintendent Jesus Jara announced the move, which will cost the district about $165 million and be supported through federal COVID relief funds and operating dollars, at a press conference on Tuesday at Desert Pines High School in Las Vegas. Additionally, support staff will be getting one-time retention bonuses of $4,500, and administrators and teachers who are not getting a base salary increase will get bonuses of $5,000, he added.

“For me, as a superintendent, it was important to get over $50,000,” Jara said on how the district decided on how much to boost starting teacher pay. He added that it will push base pay above what many districts in the West are paying.

A recent poll from The Nevada Independent / OH Predictive Insights found that raising teacher pay was the intervention the greatest number of Nevada voters believed could go furthest to improve public education. The poll showed 36 percent of voters thought that would improve education; 25 percent said holding back children who can’t read at grade level could make the biggest difference, and 18 percent pointed to reducing class size as the best intervention.

CCSD has not been fully staffed since 1994, Jara said.

“When we're looking at the number of vacancies that we have, this is why this was important to get it done now,” he said.

District spokesman Tod Story said federal money can support the bonuses because they are a one-time expense, but general operating money will support the increased base salary, because that is an ongoing expenditure.

Jara called the adjustments announced on Tuesday a step toward addressing “a first immediate crisis” but said that the district was heading toward “going back to the table and addressing all the salary schedules as a board.”

Teachers and staff should see their retention bonuses in two payments, with the first one coming in September and the second in May, Jara said. Those who are retiring this summer will not receive the bonus. 

In addition to recruiting teachers and support staff, the district is also looking for 14 school police officers, Story said, amid the district’s continual grappling with high-profile instances of school violence. Story said the district has about 175 officers and considers its school police force fully staffed with 189 officers. 

“There's no particular or specific reason that we're hiring more officers other than we need them,” Story told The Nevada Independent. “We have vacancies that need to be filled in order to be fully staffed.” 

Kristan Nigro, a kindergarten teacher at Steve Schorr Elementary School, said the pay increase should help address teacher retention issues and make CCSD more competitive.

“We have over 300,000 students here in Clark, and every single one of them is deserving of a solid educator,” she said at the press conference. “[Students] deserve to have the best and we can bring the best.”  

Michelle Rindels contributed to this report.

Updated at 3:10 p.m. on 6/1/22 to add clarification from district on statement about when teachers last saw a pay increase.

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