The votes are in, and if they don’t get a promised raise, the Clark County Teachers Union has voted to strike in the coming school year. On Monday, Politics NOW Co-host Patrick Walker spoke with Governor Steve Sisolak who reaffirmed his commitment to giving raises to teachers during the 2019/2020 school year.
The governor has been clear for months, saying the money he budgeted to give to schools for teacher raises will indeed be there. However, the looming issue has been a question of what happens related to the Clark County School District’s projected $120 million budget shortfall.
“I’m confident that you’re not going to find a group of individuals that are going to work harder than we are right now,” said Gov. Sisolak, D-Nevada.
With three weeks to go until the end of the legislative session, Governor Sisolak says lawmakers are working at a fever pitch to make sure his education priorities are funded.
The priorities Sisolak wants to be funded are as followed:
- 3 percent raise for teachers.
- 2 percent step increase
- Additional funds for educator health insurance and classroom resources.
Patrick Walker, Reporter: “Minus any shortfalls that any one school district might have — is the money there for the raises, as you’ve accounted for it?” Gov. Sisolak: “Well, the money was there for what we planned for our education budget and the 3 percent raises.”
So is additional funding there to address the Clark County School District’s projected $120 million budget shortfall next year? The answer to that question is unclear.
Clark County Education Association Executive Director John Vellardita says his members voted to strike in August if the district doesn’t receive enough money to fulfill the governor’s promises.
“When the budget is passed by the legislature, the school district is either going to have that money to do both, or they’re not, and if they’re not, the district has already announced that it’s going to make budget cuts, including up to 1,500 positions,” said Vellardita.
Vellardita says the union didn’t take the vote lightly because it is illegal by state law for public employees to strike, but the issue has reached a tipping point.
Sisolak says he’s concerned about yearly budget deficits at different school districts. Vellardita says lawmakers have a chance to help fix that issue now.
“So we think it’s a state issue, and that is how much more money is going to be invested in the Clark County School District,” Vellardita said.