The Clark County School District in Nevada is looking for new teachers in an effort to address a teacher shortage, while at the same time, teachers who already hold positions there are seeking better pay.
A rally was held by the teachers earlier this week outside of Durango High School to push the district into meeting their demands. The Clark County Education Association reported that the teachers are asking for a total salary increase of $70 million. Meanwhile, the district has offered slightly more than $20 million.
Although they appreciate the proposed increase, the teachers continue to express a feeling of being overlooked in the district, as new teachers are continually being sought out. In order to attract more new teachers, the district is offering a signing bonus of $5,000, writes John Dabkovich for Fox5 Vegas.
A number of veteran teachers argue that they are currently being paid less as a result of pay-increase freezes that were put in place to handle a previous $70 million deficit. Teachers are also being required to contribute more to their retirement plans. The average teacher in the district makes $35,000 each year, reports Craig Fiegener for News3LV, and is making use of substitute teachers to fill gaps.
“We love our substitutes,” Vikki Courtney, of Clark County Education Association, said. “But, substitutes, for the most part, don’t have the experience or the knowledge to do the job that qualified teachers do.”
“The district needs to step up and really make a priority of having actual teachers in the classrooms so the kids get the education we expect,” she added.
CCSC spokesperson Michelle Booth said the substitutes are training with seasoned teachers who been with the Clark County School District for several years. She expressed her sympathies toward the situation faced by current teachers in the state.
“We understand the frustration of the teachers. We continue to negotiate with the teachers’ representation and hope to find a solution that benefits the teachers and the students,” Booth said.
Meanwhile, the teachers argue that in the end, it all comes down to ensuring that all students receive a high quality education, especially as the student-to-teacher ratio continues to rise.
“We still have 1,000 open positions. We still have 25,000 students in this district who don’t have a licensed teacher. It hasn’t been effective. It’s because they’re not paying properly,” Barber said.
To date, the sides have met eight times, meaning an impasse can be declared by either side at any time. CCEA would like an arbitrator to be named to settle the contract.