LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — With less than 72 hours until the end of the legislative session, the local teachers union is putting pressure on lawmakers to put more money into education, or they’ll strike, beginning the first day of school this August.
Lawmakers and the governor’s office say they have been trying to allocate as much money as possible for K-12 education, even beyond what the governor originally called for in his budget. After various cuts in state agency budget requests over the past few months, lawmakers were able to free up more money to go towards education.
Estimates range between $220-250 million with $62 million of that committed toward additional K-12 education funding. But, on Friday, the Clark County Education Association dug its heels into the sand, saying that’s not enough.
“Fund our schools now! Fund our schools now,” teachers chanted during a rally on Friday.
Adorned in “Red for Ed” gear, teachers, students, and supporters turned up the pressure on lawmakers in Carson City.
“It’s a strike for more money from the state if the state doesn’t fund the school districts now,” said John Vellardita, CCEA executive director. “This is not a strike against the school district.”
Teacher Kristan Nigro says she wants to see more action from lawmakers.
“I am an angry CCEA member because I’m sick and tired of having promises that are made but can’t be followed through,” said Kristan Nigro, teacher.
Vellardita drew the proverbial line in the sand when it comes to funding, challenging lawmakers to give enough money to the district to fully fund a 3 percent teacher raise, 2 percent step increase and money to cover increasing health care costs, which the district puts at $111 million a year for the next two years or else the strike will happen.
“That then will trigger a strike, and that strike will take place at the beginning of the school year,” Vellardita said.
Shortly after the rally, CCSD Superintendent Dr. Jesus Jara held a press conference of his own as well on Friday. His tone was a bit more optimistic, saying that lawmakers are working on moving additional money into education funding.
“There’s an opportunity for us to be able to pay for the raises and pay for the entire $111 million, that’s the number that we’re trying to get to,” Vellardita said.
However, Vellardita cautions if all of that money isn’t there, they will be forced to respond to any potential strike.
“My reaction is that our children are to be in school 180 days; I will file and do what I need to do to make sure that our children will come to school 180 days,” said Vellardita.
With a balanced budget already approved, any funding changes will only add more money into the CCSD budget. However, how much, or if it’s enough to pay for the raises and health care costs remains to be seen.