LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Clark County teachers and staff addressed legislators Saturday about the issues within the Clark County School District and the state of education overall.
This happened during a town hall organized by the Clark County Education Association at Sunrise Mountain High School in Las Vegas located near Hollywood Boulevard and Carey Avenue.
Nearly two dozen lawmakers representing districts in Clark County attended the event where teachers told the legislators that the staff shortage at CCSD is at a crisis level.
According to CCEA, the district needs more than 14,000 educators and they argue that the state has not made a real investment in building a future workforce.
“A lot of our students don’t have those licensed staff members in the classroom, and that’s impacting their learning and their performance,” Jordan Wenger, a board member with the Clark County Education Association, said.
Besides serving as a CCEA board member, Wenger is a school psychologist at Clyde Cox and Paul Culley elementary schools.
Wenger supports recent moves by CCSD to partner with Nevada State College and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, to help cover the costs of a future teacher’s college education, as a step in the right direction.
“It’s removing a lot of barriers for people becoming educators, so they can get a lot of that student loan forgiveness,” Wenger said.
CCSD lost the most teachers it ever has in the 2021-2022 school year, according to CCEA.
“Especially in the last five, six years, so many educators are leaving,” Rebecca Weeks, art teacher at Bailey Middle School, said.
At the town hall, teachers talked to the legislators about the need for more funding. Nevada changed its education funding formula to target struggling schools.
Yet, the teacher’s union is concerned over Republican Governor Joe Lombardo’s emphasis on giving parents more power to choose what type of school they send their children to attend.
It’s a position that State Sen. Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro criticized Saturday.
“Why are we talking about taking our state dollars away out of public education? I don’t understand that,” Cannizzaro, (D) District 6, said to a room full of applause.
Other teachers also expressed frustration with the violence in the classroom. They say there’s a lack of counselors and social workers in schools to help deal with it.
“I think we just need more funding to train teachers in restorative practices, so that we know how to deal with children who are experiencing those type of behaviors, and especially our children with mental health issues,” Gayla Thornton, a counselor at Franklin Elementary School, said.
School safety has been a concern within CCSD since students returned back into the classroom after the pandemic.
During the 2021-2022 school year, more than 8,000 behavioral reports were recorded at CCSD regarding students, according to data CCEA shared. Out of those, 7,00 were acts of violence with 667 recorded as battery to a school employee.
The union says none of those acts resulted in a student being deemed a habitual disciplinary problem.