Las Vegas District Teacher Layoffs Loom, says Superintendent

Clark County School District Superintendent Dwight Jones has warned that the pending teacher layoffs won't be far off, as the district's 2011-12 budget must be balanced.

The issue is an unsettled teacher contract that has the district in the red for $39 million. And, if it isn't settled with the local teachers union soon, pink slips will go out to the first round of teachers within the "next month or so," writes Trevon Milliard at the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

While teachers won't be fired immediately, they will be informed that they won't be required to work in the following school year. However, despite the threat, the Clark County Education Association says that it must protect pay raises for its staff.

Jones believes that teachers must take the same pay freeze other employee groups already have to balance its budget.

Jones explained:

"Every other labor group has made concessions, outside of the teachers.

"I'm not hurting you. I'm not taking money away from you. I'm just saying don't take an increase."

The battle has been going on for some time. At the end of last year the superintendent asked school principals to plan for layoffs, totaling 1,000 teaching and licensed-staff positions. This would mean a cut of up to seven positions in each school.

The situation has required an arbitrator's ruling on the teacher contract to draw a close to the fight. State law requires the district to submit a balanced budget in April, and so the district needs a decision soon.

"I don't know if I can wait until April to send out the first pink slips.

"It's a lose-lose for me."

Jones believes that regardless which way the arbitrator rules, teachers will fail. He explained that if the union gets its way then the district would cut at least 1,000 positions and if the the district wins, teachers may have to pay back the raises implemented this year.

Union President Ruben Murillo posted a statement addressing the threat on the CCEA website, in which, he said:

"In an attempt to strengthen its position, the district went straight to teachers using the threat of layoffs to cause fear and intimidation, all the while still hiring teachers."

However, Jones said that the district hasn't increased teacher staffing this year other than just replacing those who have retired or left.

"I guarantee those people who are yelling and screaming wouldn't want that for their kids."

The district needs an increase of $38 million in concessions from teachers in 2012-13 to balance that budget, regardless of the arbitrator‘s decision.

"I can't expect they'll (teachers union officials) work with me.

"Over the summer, if everything stays the same, we could have substantial teacher cuts that happen before the next school year.

"At the end of the day, the other folks have made the concessions," Jones said.

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