LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Pay raises and classroom size top the funding issues the teachers union says its members are concerned about, and if their wants and needs aren’t met, Clark County School District teachers could walk out in protest come the Fall school season.
On Tuesday, teachers within the union started voting online as to whether they will strike. Officials say there has been a “very high level of engagement” so far.
The Clark County Education Association heavily backed Gov. Steve Sisolak during his gubernatorial bid last year. They were hoping for some funding changes in Carson City this legislative session. Right now, their message is focused on lawmakers to deliver on educational promises.
Local parents 8 News NOW spoke with Wednesday say they’re understanding of the idea of teachers walking off the job in the fall.
Patrick Walker, Reporter: “Are you supportive of the teachers if they decide to take that step?”
Chris Whiting, parent: Uh, yeah. I mean, I guess I am. It would be a really tough decision for them to make.”
“I think they deserve a raise, and I kind of agree with them to walk for the strike in the fall,” said Parvaneh Rezaei, parent.
It’s an issue that has been building for months. In Governor Sisolak’s State of the State speech, he outlined a number of increases in education funding, including one to boost teacher pay.
“Legislators, I am asking you to stand with me and stand with our educators by including them in the 3 percent pay raise,” Gov. Sisolak said.
The legislative session started two weeks later, and soon after rumblings were coming out of Carson City that the money may not be there to fund what the governor recommended.
The local teacher’s union, the Clark County Education Association expressed concern that lawmakers were going to pass bills that would require funding beyond what was included in the nearly $9 billion recommended budget.
“We’re concerned, because in the end — somebody — without introducing any new revenue, is going to start doing horse-trading, and education cannot be horse-traded,” said John Vellardita, the executive director of the Clark County Education Association.
The CCEA conducted both public and teacher polls and found support for taking action up to a strike. Last week, a report from the non-partisan Guinn Center revealed the state still needed to find more than $100 million to fund the 3 percent raise and a 2 percent merit pay increase.
A strike is considered a last resort, but it’s illegal under Nevada law, so it’s not a decision teachers are taking lightly.
“I’m not comfortable at all even saying the “S” word, so I’m hoping that it doesn’t get to that point,” said Kristan Nigro, teacher.
CCSD Superintendent Dr. Jesus Jara issued a statement to 8 news now today about the strike vote, saying:
“It is illegal to strike in Nevada. As superintendent, my job is to make sure that students receive a quality education. I will take the necessary action to protect the integrity of our school day for our 321,000 students.”
Dr. Jara’s preliminary budget for next year does not include teacher raises, because the district does not yet know how much money will be coming from the state.