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Teacher Union Head Responds To District Budget 'Disappointment'

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"You cannot show improvement in the classroom, if you don’t invest in these teachers."

That was the overarching message in an interview with the head of the largest teacher's union in Nevada. John Vellardita, Clark County Education Association executive director, was responding to teacher salary freezes by the Clark County School District. 

The move of the district to institute salary freezes for teachers and administrators comes along with the announcement of a $67 million budget deficit. To make up for that deficit, raises for teachers are not in the cards for the 2015-16 school year.

It was a surprise to many, after the legislative session ended with the passage of Governor Brian Sandoval's signature tax plan - a plan that was suppose to yield about $800 million dollars in education funding to Clark County.

"So, 27 days after that session ends to have your local governing body essentially turn around to those employees and say, 'Guess what? We’re going to freeze your salary,' after the effort they made to fund education properly is, from their persective, a slap in the face," Vellardita said.

Last week, around 100 teachers gathered to protest at a board of directors meeting at Clark County School District, and delivered a petition of about 6,000 signatures of teachers asking the district to reconsider its decision.

It comes at a time when the district is struggling to find the teachers it needs for full classrooms, the state even offers a $5,000 bonus for new teachers who come to the district.

Teachers are not allowed to strike by law in Nevada, but Vellardita said he is optimistic that a compromise will soon be reached.

"The money is in the budget, and we’re going to make sure our teachers are compensated appropriately," he said.

John Vellardita, executive director, Clark County Education Association

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Prior to taking on the role of Broadcast Operations Manager in January 2021, Rachel was the senior producer of KNPR's State of Nevada program for 6 years. She helped compile newscasts and provided coverage for and about the people of Southern Nevada, as well as major events such as the October 1 shooting on the Las Vegas strip, protests of racial injustice, elections and more. Rachel graduated with a bachelor's degree of journalism and mass communications from New Mexico State University.