School District at Impasse in Contract Negotiations

School board meeting Wednesday night, 9/11 at the Old High school at 6:00 p.m. — file photo

Updated 9/15/2019 to add bill number and link

by Rachel Dahl —

The Churchill County School District is currently in negotiations with the three associations representing licensed, classified, and administrative staff throughout the district. Negotiations happen every year and govern the contracts each employee has with the district, whether they are a member of the associations or not.

Governor Sisolak was able to get legislation (AB 309) to fund the state budget for school employees to get a raise this year. Most of the school districts in the state have given their school employees the raise that was budgeted for, but Churchill County has not given the raises, tying up negotiations with the associations.

The Governor was quoted in the Nevada Independent on June 4th as saying, “The teachers should feel very secure that they’re getting a pay increase,” Sisolak said. “That was one of our number one priorities.”

Because negotiations are private between the district and each association, there is an agreement among those in negotiations that no one is allowed to go on record about the specifics of the meetings.

However, for background purposes, Elena Marsh, President of the Teacher’s Association, explained that every year the associations negotiate the contract between the employees and the district, with each association representing either teachers, classified, or administration.

“Last year we negotiated a two-year contract and during the first year we can negotiate anything that is in the contract, anything that is language based, plus salary. In the second year, which is what we’re in, we can negotiate a certain number of re-openers, we can bring in only a couple of items language-wise, and salary,” said Marsh providing some background to the negotiation issue.

“Last year the law was you have eight meetings before you can declare impasse,” she said, “and this year the law changed that you can have four before you go to impasse. This year we have had eight meetings already. But the only thing we have left right now is one language item and salary.”

An example of language a item would be transfer items – how transfers happen and who gets priority. “We always ask our membership what is most important to them,” said Marsh.

The classified association is represented by Gaylene Drinkut, who was willing to say the classified association is officially at impasse with the district over money issue. “We’re looking at either federal mediation and fact finding or going directly to arbitration. If we can resolve it we want to do that.”

According to Drinkut, as part of fact finding, the research department at the American Federation Teachers, AFL-CIO, is currently auditing the district financial situation. “They are looking at whether or not the district has the funds to give us the raise we’ve asked for. If they refuse to give it, where is the money going?”

The Administrators’ Association has not yet declared an impasse but will meet on Wednesday before the school board meeting. Association president Keith Boone says, “the glass is always half full,” and they have not yet declared an impasse.

Superintendent Summer Stephens sent a response by email to a request for information, “I spoke to our attorney who asked that I not speak about the money topic until negotiations are final.  Our contracts state that I cannot speak outside of the teams unless we are jointly speaking together.  Sorry I am not more help at this time.”

The school district board of trustees will meet Wednesday night, September 11, at 6:00 p.m. at 690 S. Maine Street.

 

 

 

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