LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The Clark County School District (CCSD) Board of Trustees plans to consider giving school psychologists a pay raise. There are nearly 40 vacancies right now in the district.

It’s a critical labor shortage CCSD and the district’s largest teachers union are trying to address with money.

“We need to be more competitive,” said Ryan Conn, a school psychologist. He works with three CCSD schools. “I’m the only school psychologist for about 3,500 students.”

The district says the estimated ratio as of September is one per 2,048 students. This is well above the National Association of School Psychologists recommendation of one for every 500-700 students.

“There are over 60 schools in the district that do not have an assigned psychologist because we’re short,” Conn shared.

Now, CCSD and the Clark County Education Association (CCEA) want to fix the problem.

“The fact that there has been an uptick in mental health issues among students, I think that forced the school district and the CCEA to sit down and say what can we do to address this,” said John Vellardita, CCEA executive director.

Trustees will consider an agreement to increase base salaries for psychologists by more than $5,500. Documents show it costing the district more than $527,000 this year and about $1.1 million next year.

Vellardita calls it a necessary investment.

“So that we are able to be competitive and recruit school psychologists to address some of the vacancies, and at the same time, hang on to those who are here so they don’t feel overworked and they have to leave,” he explained.

Conn thinks “it’s a great step to recruit and retain.”

This is also a step to help reduce case loads for Conn and his colleagues and better support students.

CCSD currently has 159 licensed school psychologists. The school board will consider the proposal at this Thursday’s board meeting.