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School districts unclear on why requests for funding for educator pay raises went ignored

Guidance sent to districts states multiple funding requests are allowed, but gives the ‘ultimate authority’ to lawmakers on whether to approve them or not.
Rocio Hernandez
Rocio Hernandez
EducationK-12 Education

Confusion remains days after an interim legislative committee decided it wouldn’t consider funding requests from two school districts, including Clark County, for a portion of a $250 million matching fund created during the 2023 legislative session to support additional pay increases for teachers and support staff.

Requests for a share of the matching fund, also known as SB231, from 10 school districts were on the agenda for the Wednesday meeting of the Interim Finance Committee (IFC) — a group of lawmakers who make state spending decisions while the Legislature is out of session. 

Prior to the meeting, the Clark County School District submitted an application to the IFC requesting $58 million, about 33 percent of the total funding from SB231 ($174 million) set aside for the district to support 4 percent raises for its support staff in addition to other raises the district already agreed to as part of a new contract with the Education Support Employees Association (ESEA) and Teamsters Local 14. The application didn’t include a plan for raises for teachers as the district hasn’t finished negotiating a new contract with its teachers union, the Clark County Education Association. 

Lander County School District’s application requested about $591,000 for its certified staff. The district remains under contract negotiations with the bargaining unit representing its support staff.  

But before either school district could present its funding request, committee chair and Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno (D-North Las Vegas) announced that CCSD’s request wouldn’t be considered because it was “incomplete.” She didn’t fully elaborate on what made CCSD’s application incomplete but said districts were supposed to present a plan that included budget increases for salaries for teachers and education support professionals, and CCSD’s plan didn’t “encompass all that.”

Later, she said the committee would also pass on taking action on Lander County’s request to be consistent with its previous decision on CCSD. 

Guidance sent to school officials by the Legislative Counsel Bureau (LCB) months prior to the meeting suggested that districts could submit multiple requests for SB231 funding, anticipating that they could finalize collective bargaining agreements with the various unions representing their employees at different points in time. 

Yet, another section of the guidance states that IFC has “ultimate authority” in approving districts’ SB231 requests. This was alluded to by Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro (D-Las Vegas), who later supported a decision to defer a vote on Lyon County School District’s request in order to get more information on its plan. 

“This committee also has the discretion to approve or not approve things that come before it,” she said. 

The decision on Clark and Lander’s requests created frustration and disappointment for district employees. The ESEA and Teamsters Local 14 said in a statement Wednesday their members were being held “hostage by other unions actions,” referring to the ongoing contract battle between CCSD and its teachers union. In September, CCSD declared an impasse, triggering the start of an arbitration process. 

During a Thursday interview, Lander County schools Superintendent Russell Klein said that prior to the meeting he hadn’t been told by officials with LCB or IFC that there were any issues with his district’s application. 

He said he was so confident that his funding request would be approved that he had already drafted an email letting his certified employees know that they could expect the additional SB231-funded raises likely by their next paycheck, which is scheduled for Christmas Day. 

“... Maybe it was our misfortune to be applying for a partial at the same time that Clark did because it appeared from the discussion and feedback from the committee that they were not opposed to anything related to our plan,” he said. 

Wednesday’s meeting was the latest during the feud between Democratic lawmakers and CCSD Superintendent Jesus Jara. 

Prior to the districts’ presentations, Monroe-Moreno added that she was told before the meeting that Jara wouldn’t be in attendance. Though she acknowledged school districts were directed to send a representative, she said the committee expected those representatives would be the districts’ superintendents. 

In a Thursday statement to support staff, Jara said the district wasn’t notified prior to the IFC meeting that the committee would defer on its request. He said this deferral means CCSD support staff will not get additional raises until March at the earliest. 

The school district did not respond to inquiries from The Nevada Independent on why Jara did not attend the meeting. 

After the announcement, Monroe-Moreno let other school districts present their funding requests, including the Lander County School District, which, similar to CCSD, was only requesting enough funding for one employee group, its certified educators, while the district continued negotiations with the bargaining unit representing its classified staff. 

After the presentations concluded, Monroe-Moreno announced that the committee would also not take action on Lander County’s request “to be consistent” with her earlier decision regarding CCSD’s request. 

The committee also voted to defer its decision on Lyon County School District’s request for $6.2 million until it gets more clarity on whether these dollars would be used to support ongoing raises or a one-time bonus, and whether the plan was approved by the district’s bargaining units. 

The committee approved $15 million in funding for five other districts including Carson City and Eureka County. 

Updated at 9:10 a.m. on 12/15/23 to clarify the matching fund dollar amount.


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