23 Nov Responding to Labor Disputes
We value our teachers and all of our other employees to include support staff, school police and administrators and we will continue to work with the respective bargaining groups to reach a solution that benefits everyone, including our students and community.
1) Why is there a pay freeze? As a result of the recently passed state law SB 241, the District cannot provide any monetary increases until a new contract is settled. So far, no CCSD employees have received an increase including licensed employees (teachers), support staff and administrators. Also, increasing salaries will require cuts to the CCSD budget.
2) Is there money to provide raises? The budget is fixed and funds that would have been used to pay new teachers have been allocated. Some of that money is used (repurposed) to pay substitutes, to pay for extra special education expenses and to reduce other budgets cuts we would have had to make. Even with the use of these funds, the District had to make $67 million in additional cuts to its budget due to a reduction in funding. Any increase in salaries would result in even more reduction in programs and spending. The Board of School Trustees approved an offer to the CCEA, which includes almost $40 million in increases. This includes a new salary table which would provide new teachers an increased starting salary of $40,000 to address our critical teacher shortage and tops out at $78,000 to provide for future earnings and to retain our current teachers, it also provides increases for educational credits as provided for in the existing contract, as well as an increased monthly contribution of $45 per month per employee to the Teacher’s Health Trust for one year. In order to make this offer, CCSD had to identify budget cuts in areas such as school maintenance and the Human Resources Management System. Despite our offer we have been unable to reach an agreement and must now prepare for arbitration.
3) Why can’t CCSD use the $70 million in “teacher shortage savings” to give raises? The District cannot use it because it was already budgeted in order to avoid additional cuts. The $70 million dollars that have been rumored to exist as “extra money” is called attrition and attrition savings are expected each year based on historical trends. If the district had used that money for raises the District would have had to make an additional $70 million in cuts. When added to the $67 million the District already cut, this would have resulted in a $137 million budget gap. That in turn would have meant higher class sizes, reductions in special programs, and no magnet school expansions.
4) Why can’t CCSD use the $105 million in Ending Fund Balance for raises? The reserves outlined in the balance sheet for the CCSD General Operation Fund are totaled at $105 million. Unfortunately, a significant portion of those funds cannot be used to supplement teacher raises. The five million dollars outlined at the top of the budget sheet are non-spendable funds also known as “non-liquid” funds that are actually inventory that would have to be sold to be converted into actual funds. Other items are restricted for specific programs or carryover from purchases that didn’t get charged to the previous fiscal year and have to be paid this year and have to be accounted another portion of the ending fund balance comes from school carryovers of unspent funds for instructional materials which we allow our schools to have especially in light of recent cuts to their budget. More than $20 million of those funds are reserved for human resources tools and deferred maintenance projects which were taken into consideration for cutbacks in order to make the District’s $40 million offer of raises, extra pay and the health insurance contribution to the teachers bargaining unit, which was rejected. The unassigned funds of $31 million are set aside as part of the Board Required Reserves, which should sit at two percent but currently sit at 1.5 percent.
5) Does CCSD care about retaining experienced teachers, or just recruiting new ones? Both are very important. That is why last year the Trustees approved a $54 million increase in teacher compensation, which was focused on retention of our experienced teachers. Despite those increases, the District still has more teachers retiring this year than last year. This year, since we will have to make cuts in order to provide any salary increases, the Trustees are focused on ensuring a competitive starting salary for new teachers. That said, our proposals have still provided for compensation increases for teachers, with a salary schedule that goes up to $78,000 per year in the District’s proposed schedule.
6) Why is there a teacher shortage in CCSD? Nationwide there is a teacher shortage. In the past CCSD has been successful in recruiting from other states like California, Florida, Texas and Colorado but now those states are also facing recruiting challenges. In fact, although we started with a need to hire 2,600 teachers, the state of Nevada only produced approximately 800 teachers from our local colleges and universities during the last year. Nationally, teacher preparation programs have had decreases in enrollment of up to 50% compared to other years in some states, such as California. We’ve also seen an increase in our student population and an increase in the number of teacher retirements. The expansion of Full Day Kindergarten and a Class Size Reduction mandate have also caused a need to hire more teachers in addition to student enrollment growth.
7) What is CCSD doing to address the shortage? CCSD has increased nationwide recruitment, and CCSD has been successful in hiring approximately 1,750 teachers, almost a 15% increase overall from last year, and an almost 60% increase in the number of teachers who come to CCSD with experience from other districts. CCSD has also found 300 professionals in the community to participate in our Alternative Routes to Licensure (ARL) program and have switched careers to teaching. Another 100 ARL participants will be eligible to teach once they complete their testing requirements. We also are inviting retired teachers in areas of critical need to come back and teach our students. CCSD has now hired a total of 5,600 employees (licensed, support staff and administrators) in the last 12 months, which is about the size of a staff of a casino on the Strip.
8) Are long-term subs and new teachers qualified? Our substitutes are licensed with an endorsement as a substitute granted by the State of Nevada. Additionally, our long-term subs and new teachers are provided with mentors who work closely with them to ensure that they have all the tools and resources necessary to teach their students and who closely monitor their progress in the classroom. Our long-term substitutes are provided with some of the same training opportunities as our new teacher hires. That said, our goal is a full-time licensed teacher in classrooms, which is why we are placing a special emphasis on efforts on recruitment and retention.
9) Why are only new teachers provided a bonus? The “bonus” applies to only new teachers as a result of a new state law. New teachers who commit to working at our Title I schools where there is the greatest need are provided up to a $5,000 bonus that is paid from funds approved specifically for that purpose by the legislature through Senate Bill 511. This money does not come from CCSD’s general fund and can only be applied as a bonus for those new teachers. So far we’ve had 1,045 teachers who have qualified for the bonus and who have committed to serve where there is the greatest need and where we have trouble filling vacancies.
10) Why are you not focusing on raises for veteran teachers? In accordance with state law the District cannot provide any raises or increases on the salary schedule until a new bargaining agreement is reached with the union bargaining unit. Although of course we would like to provide raises to all of our hard-working staff, the reality is that we have less money in our budget this year to do so. Again, since the District has already identified $67 million in cuts just to balance the budget, providing any raises would mean that additional cuts would have to be made to an already strained budget. Last year CCSD provided a $54 million increase for teachers including additional pay for the most senior teachers, this year the focus is to provide a higher starting salary to help fill the vacancies and work towards our goal to ensure that every student has a full-time licensed teacher in the classroom.
11) Didn’t the state provide extra funds for education? The increased funds from the legislature for education are designated for specific programs that help teachers in increasing student achievement and cannot be used for salaries. These monies are going to fund critical programs such as Read by Third Grade, expansion of ZOOM Schools, Victory Schools, English Language Learners and other programs that will help provide teachers with more resources and tools to help their students.
12) How do CCSD teacher salaries compare to the rest of the nation?
National Average salary – $56,383
CCSD Average Salary – $55,957
(The District agreed to an increase to the entire teacher salary schedule last year)
* National Starting Salary – $36,141
CCSD Starting Salary – $34,637
(The district proposed raising its teacher starting salary to $40,000)
*National rate of retention – 85% (2012)
CCSD Rate of retention – 94%
* Source: National Center for Education Statistics