Earlier this week, the Clark County School District teachers’ bargaining unit, Clark County Educators Association, announced teachers would strike if they didn’t reach a deal. It’s perhaps the most eminent threat of a teacher strike in Southern Nevada in recent years and is a reflection of funding issues happening statewide.
CCSD currently faces a $35 million deficit and looming deferred maintenance costs into the billions of dollars – yet they were actually one of the “luckier” districts this session, receiving some increases in funding. Like CCSD, many districts are also struggling to meet the needs of teachers and students but with devastating reductions in funding.
An analysis by Educate Nevada Now found that of the 13 survey respondent school districts, almost half were not able to provide the governor’s recommended raises for their educators, while some districts provided the raise even if they did not receive an increase in state funding.
- 50% of the survey respondents did not see an increase in their overall funding.
- 50% of the survey respondents were unable to provide the full 3% raise the governor’s recommended.
- Carson City provided a 2% raise, Esmeralda a 2.5% raise, storey a 2% raise plus a 1% PERS adjustment
Although CCSD is offering a three percent raise, a step-increase and increased contributions for health insurance to all its bargaining units, it falls short of CCEA’s demand to provide raises to educators who invested time and money to complete a professional growth plan (known as a column movement).
This may seem confusing after what legislators called a historical increase in education funding. Yes, the 4.2 % average per pupil increase for this school year is positive, but it’s impact is offset by the dismal 1.5 % that awaits schools the following year.
Next year districts won’t even be able to keep up with inflation costs, making increased resources, continued pay raises and other supports very unlikely.
That begs the question, what is the long-term goal of the pending teacher strike?
This particular strike is aimed at CCSD and seemingly only seeks to resolve the negotiation gridlock for this school year. Across the nation, the strong wave of teacher strikes we’ve seen were statewide efforts fought in tandem with the support of the school districts to put pressure on lawmakers to increase and identify new sustainable revenues for K-12 education.
The truth is, if our school districts continue to provide raises without correlating funding increases, they will never have enough funds to address other important matters such as schools without functional playgrounds, school buses running without air conditioning, outdated textbooks and technology, and perhaps most important, class sizes that rank as the largest in the country.
What kind of win is it for teachers to receive a raise if it comes at a cost of increasing class sizes, deteriorating classrooms and failing equipment? Teachers deserve funding for a good quality of life as well as a quality workplace. Just providing raises for our teachers is not enough, our community deserved a real investment in K-12 education from our legislators this past session.
And, although lawmakers are touting the “biggest K-12 funding in history,” much of these funds are restricted and can’t be used for operational costs like providing raises and maintenance needs.
Regardless of this one time bump in funding, many school districts are still recovering from years of deficits and funding that hasn’t kept up with inflation. A modest one-year insertion of increased funds will not suddenly put our schools back on track. Increased funding growth must be on-going and consistent to make a real impact.
Ultimately, lawmakers have found that Nevada is more than $1 billion short of adequately funding our schools and there is nothing our individual school districts can do to make up for this shortfall to get our students and educators the resources they need. We support our educators and understand their frustration, and we hope the looming strike sparks a conversation and activism that focuses on the big picture that lawmakers must identify a long-term solution to adequately fund public K-12 education throughout the state.