Teachers and CCSD settle contract, salary

On March 10, teachers reaped the benefits of months of protesting. In December 2015, the Clark County Education Association (CCEA) and Clark County School District (CCSD) reached an agreement regarding teacher’s contract and salary. The new contract covers the 2015-2016, and 2016-2017 years and includes changes to teacher’s salaries and health insurance. The contract is meant to attract new teachers to fill the nearly 700 classroom vacancies in CCSD, and provide better compensation for its current teachers.

This summer, CCSD and CCEA failed to reach an agreement, leaving teachers without a contract for seven months of protesting and uncertainty regarding their salary. Approximately 40,000 employees didn’t get a pay raise, as CCSD attempted to establish a $67 million budget with raises promised in the previous contract.

Jennifer Manning, a former teacher at Spring Valley High School and currently a Uniserv Representative for the union, was the one to start the teachers’ protest and stood outside CCSD offices alone for days last June before getting support. Teachers joined her in protesting because many were promised raises in their former contract for completing classes and years of experience.

“It’s unfortunate to work so long without a contract,” said Tam Larnerd, the principal of Spring Valley High School, who was supportive of the teacher protests.

The new pay scale starts with a salary of $40,000 and will get 2.25 percent cost of living increase on July 1.

Teachers are typically paid based on education of years of experience. The raise was included to attract new teachers in order to decrease the teacher shortage.

There are more than 700 classroom vacancies in CCSD, meaning those classes are filled with long-term substitutes.

“That’s less quality of teachers if we have a long-term sub,” said Mrs. Jodie Rose, an English teacher at Spring Valley.

Since April of 2015, the district hired more than 1800 new teachers in an attempt to fill vacancies, but still came short.

Along with salary changes, there are also changes to their health insurance. There are different requirements and the teachers have to pay out of their own pocket for the insurance.  Prices of health insurance are increasing, which hasn’t happened in years Rose said.

If a teacher has no dependent, the monthly cost is free. Anyone with one or more dependent will have to pay based on the number of dependents.

Most teachers agree that while the contract isn’t perfect, it’s the beginning of many improvements they hope to see in the district.

“It is definitely going to help keep qualified teachers,” said Mrs. Rose.

This agreement is good, not only for new teachers, but for students too, stated Casey Brown, a math teacher at Spring Valley. With better compensation and conditions, Brown believes teachers will be more focused on teaching and helping students.

Brown also believes there are downsides to the new contract.

“The new insurance is not covering a lot of my medication,” said Mr. Brown.

The Teacher’s Health Trust is an 80/20 plan that picks up 80 percent of costs. This means that the district pays for eighty percent of doctor’s fee and the other 20 percent is covered by the teachers.