Union leader refers to CCSD's appeal of teacher raises ruling as - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

Union leader refers to CCSD's appeal of teacher raises ruling as 'sour grapes'

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The emblem for the Clark County School District is shown in an undated image. (File/FOX5) The emblem for the Clark County School District is shown in an undated image. (File/FOX5)
LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -

The legal battle continues for Clark County teachers fighting for pay raises. CCSD is appealing a ruling that would require the school district to spend $13 million in pay increases next year.

School leaders said that would just be too costly in their already-tight budget.

Earlier this month, an arbitrator agreed with teachers, saying CCSD must pay those raises. It was a seemingly big win for the teachers’ union. But CCSD’s latest appeal is leaving many educators frustrated.

“We think this is very bad: bad faith, sour grapes,” CCEA Executive Director John Vellardita said.

Vellardita said it is not fair and only wasting taxpayer dollars. He said this issue is gaining national attention with teachers protesting for better pay in several other states, including Oklahoma, West Virginia and Arizona.

[RELATED: CCSD may try not to honor ruling to give raises to teachers]

“There’s a tipping point where educators say enough is enough,” Vellardita said. “I believe that point has arrived here in Clark County. The actions on the part of the trustees the other day is a slam dunk for educators to draw conclusions that, ‘Why should we have any confidence or trust in this leadership anymore to invest in us as educators?’”

Vellardita said he does believe CCSD can afford the raises. He said trustees just need to prioritize state funding.

“What they’ve done is opened up Pandora’s box,” Vellardita said. “And for those that open it up, it’s going to be a hard time to shut it down.”

Vellardita said they are ready to go back to court. He added the option of protesting is still on the table.

CCSD sent this statement in response to its appeal:

The Clark County School District asked the District Court yesterday to vacate and set aside last week’s arbitration decision on the contract with the Clark County Education Association. The following statement can be attributed to Board of School Trustees President Deanna Wright:

“Unfortunately, the Clark County School District is in the difficult position of needing to ask the court to vacate last week’s arbitration award regarding the 2017-18 contract with the Clark County Education Association,” Wright said.

“The Board of School Trustees would have liked to provide a raise for all employees. Unfortunately, we have been grappling with budget crises for several years in a row -- cutting and cutting and cutting our budget. If we were to comply with this arbitration award, we would need to cut positions and programs that serve students,” she said. “Instead we must collaborate with employee associations and others in the community to work with the legislature to consistently provide raises for all our employees in a fiscally responsible way.”

Trustees made the decision to go to court for two reasons:

1. The arbitration decision fails to comply with state law that protects school districts’ ending fund balances, which are the district’s only reserve in case of unexpected budget emergencies (NAC 354.660). The Trustees take their responsibility to employees seriously, and do not want to put the district in a situation where it is unable to meet its payroll or other expenses.

2. The Teacher Health Trust is in financial shambles, with multiple teachers being turned over to collections -- or even having their wages garnished -- because the THT is failing to pay its bills. Multiple lawsuits have been filed against the THT, and it has been reported to CCSD that some health care providers are declining to provide medical services to THT members. The arbitration decision would require CCSD to pay an additional $20 million to the THT in the next two years, which is not in the best interest of our teachers in the long term.

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