LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- A teacher strike may be looming in Las Vegas while legislators continue to debate school funding.
Clark County Education Association, or CCEA, had already polled teachers and the community to see if they would support a walkout.
But teachers said it’s still far from that point and they remain hopeful that lawmakers will come through.
“A kid doesn’t get a second chance at Kindergarten,” Del Sol Academy teacher Kenny Belknap said. “A kid doesn’t get a chance to go through the high school system, so every year they don’t fund them, they fail them.”
Valley teachers may be walking out of the classrooms before summer starts.
“There’s a degree of frustration here in Southern Nevada,” CCEA Executive Director John Vellardita said.
With a 3% raise promised and at least two bills focused on increasing pay, teachers are still waiting to see results.
“Time after time we see that they run on these issues and they don’t follow through,” Belknap said. “It’s not just about pay raises, it’s about increasing funding to reduce class sizes.”
CCEA said it is hopeful for change, but until teachers see it in writing, they are preparing for the worst.
“If that doesn’t happen then all options are on the table,” Belknap said.
CCEA polled 5,000 of its members and found, “94% of them said they were ready to take action including a strike if the right decisions weren’t made,” Vellardita said.
The union then went to the community.
“They came back with some interesting results – 79% of those polled said teachers are underpaid,” Vellardita said. “71% percent said they were not funding adequately our schools. 76% of our community said they would support teachers if they went out on strike.”
While those numbers may point to a strike, another local teacher’s union, NEA of Southern Nevada, doesn’t believe CCEA could do it alone.
“Local strikes are not going to be as effective as a statewide effort,” NEA-SN president Chet Miller said. “We believe that only a statewide effort will have that impact on the legislature.”
And a strike could come with serious consequences. Under state law, teachers could lose their jobs. And the strike’s organizing body could face heavy fines: $50,000 each day teachers are off the job.
“Before you take that last step, you better make sure you have the supports that you need, the community behind you,” Miller said.
Teachers don’t believe every funding issue will be solved this session.
“We’re looking for that step in the right direction,” Vellardita said. “It’s got to be like a down payment and a serious one.”
But they are demanding progress.
“Teachers never want to walk out on their students,” Miller said. “It’s usually something that falls when all other options have been tried. And we believe that our legislators hear us.”
“Walk in the shoes of a teacher for a day then take a look at their pay check at the end of the day,” Vellardita said.
There is no set timeline for when all of this may unfold. It’s based on what lawmakers do next.
CCEA said it is holding a community rally on April 27.
Miller said another factor in a possible teacher strike would be the school district and the position the superintendent takes. CCSD did not respond for comment on Sunday.
Governor Steve Sisolak sent FOX5 the following statement:
Throughout my time on the campaign trail, I heard from countless teachers who were fed up with not getting the respect they deserve. That’s why I made education reform the cornerstone of my campaign. I understand educators’ frustrations and concerns, which is why my staff and I worked very hard to be able to include a raise for educators in the governor’s budget for the first time in over a decade. I continue to work with legislative leadership and school districts to ensure our educators get the raises they deserve.