Teachers with the Clark County Education Association flooded Wednesday night’s board meeting. They stood in defiance with their backs to speakers and trustees, while coughing collectively to drown out the microphone.
When trustees began making their case, the teachers started shouting and stormed out of the room in protest.
“We never yelled at each other. We never yelled at our parents,” said School Board President Linda Young.
Trustees expressed taking offense to the demonstration, but carried on with business. All of them approved the layoffs. They maintain the cuts are necessary to balance the budget.
“Our entire intent was not for one person to lose a job,” said School Board Trustee Deanna Wright. “Not one of us wanted anybody to be without insurance and a paycheck, because we know how devastating that is.”
The district recently lost an arbitration decision to the teachers’ union which created the massive budget gap. While the union maintains layoffs are not needed, district officials say there is no other option. The layoff notices will go out the second week of June. The exact number of teachers to receive a pink slip will be determined following resignations and retirements.
CCSD officials tell 8 News Now layoffs will begin with 27 teachers who’ve had five days or more of disciplinary suspension in the last two years. District seniority will determine the remainder of the layoffs.
The teacher reductions will increase class sizes by an average of two to three students with schools staffed at 93 percent. CCSD Superintendent Dwight Jones spoke briefly about the budget he submitted.
“It is our job to move forward as a community,” he said.
The union and trustees will have to overcome their disagreements about whether the union could have compromised to avoid layoffs and if the board could have taken another direction.
“We weren’t even asking for a pay cut. We were just asking for a freeze, because we wanted to protect jobs,” Wright said.
“For them to try and tell us that it’s our fault is not true,” replied CCEA President Ruben Murillo. “I could use other words, but I’m not.”
CCSD spokeswoman Amanda Fulkerson said the district wants to meet with the union to see if they can change the layoff process to include 150 teachers who had unsatisfactory evaluations in the past two years, despite their seniority.
The Clark County School District has had to cut more than $500 million during the last few years to balance budgets. The district is fully tax funded with salaries and benefits making up 90 percent of operational costs.