Clark County schools, teachers union agree on ‘historic’ contract

Teachers and members of the Clark County Education Association rally in support of a new contract for teachers Sept. 13, 2023, in Las Vegas. The largest teachers union in Nevada filed a lawsuit Monday, Oct. 9, 2023, challenging a state law that makes it illegal for public school employees, including teachers, to go on strike. (AP Photo/John Locher)

By Lorraine Longhi

December 21, 2023

The agreement encompasses just over $750 million in funding, according to the union’s executive director John Vellardita, a sum of money that he said had “never been achieved in the district.”

After a contentious, monthslong bargaining process, the Clark County School District teachers union said Wednesday that it had reached a ‘historic’ agreement with the district on teacher pay.

In what the teachers union called “the most substantial educator contract in the district’s history,” teachers will receive 18% raises over the course of the two-year contract: 10% in the first year, which will be retroactive to July 1, 2023, and 8% in the second year.

The contract also includes an increase in extra duty pay and carves out additional funding for special education teachers and hard-to-fill positions in underserved schools.

The agreement encompasses just over $750 million in funding, according to the union’s executive director John Vellardita, a sum of money that he said had “never been achieved in the district.”

The district and the Clark County Education Association, which represents the approximately 18,000 educators in the country’s fifth-largest school district, have been bargaining over a new contract since March.

After declaring an impasse in September, the district and the union went through 28 arbitrators, Vellardita said at a press conference Thursday. State lawmakers like Democratic Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro and Assembly Speaker Steve Yeager also threw their weight behind the union during the process, calling for Superintendent Jesus Jara to resign.

“We could not have done this without our legislators,” union president Marie Neisess said Thursday.

In a statement Wednesday, Jara called teachers the most important influence on student learning, saying they were finally getting their long overdue pay increases.

“Teachers can enjoy their holidays knowing that relief is on the way,” Jara said.

Jara also credited Gov. Joe Lombardo, the school district’s Board of Trustees, and its bargaining team for getting the contract across the finish line, but Neisess described the contract negotiation process as “broken.”

“We cannot continue to do this every two years,” she said. “When our legislators put in funding, we should not have to come here and be at the mercy of whatever superintendent happens to be here. It’s unacceptable.”

Neisess reiterated calls for Jara to step down Thursday, saying replacing Jara with a new superintendent was the union’s first priority.

“Our current superintendent has negatively impacted our students,” she said. “We need to do everything we can to improve this district and move the district in the right direction.”

  • Lorraine Longhi

    Lorraine Longhi is a reporter for The Nevadan and native of the southwest. A graduate of Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism & Mass Communication, she spent eight years reporting in Arizona, including at The Arizona Republic and The Copper Courier, where she covered education, health care and state politics. She returned to Las Vegas, her hometown, last year as an education reporter for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, where she was later promoted to assistant city editor

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