Saying the cost of living has increased while her salary has gone down over the last six years, Scarselli Elementary School special education teacher Susan Lacey asked school board trustees on Monday to intervene in negotiations to give teachers a raise.
“Everything has gone up except my salary,” she said, “which has gone down. The cost of living in Douglas County has gone up 11 percent. If the money is there, you should do the right thing.”
Lacey was one of 10 school district employees who spoke to school board members during public comment on Monday. About 40 employees attended the meeting, which was a continuation of the March 11 meeting that was stopped due to a electrical outage when a cattle truck knocked down a power pole.
The Douglas County Professional Employees Association representing teachers is seeking a 7-percent pay increase in negotiations with the school district. While board members don’t participate in negotiations, teachers are urging them to intervene on their behalf.
County Commissioner Lee Bonner spoke to the school board on behalf of the teachers said the county was going to have to deal with a similar issue.
“If you’re going to give raises, you should give them to the front line people,” he said.
In Nevada, public employees aren’t allowed to strike. If the district and the association reach an impasse, they are required to go to binding arbitration.
According to teachers, they were offered a 2.5-percent raise, but took a 2.125-percent pay cut due to an increase in the Public Employee Retirement System, bringing their raise to 3/8ths percent.
At a February meeting, association President Brian Rippet asked board members to take a critical look at their budget.
Rippet said that in 2012, the district claimed it had $1.9 million when the tentative budget was approved, but when the fiscal year ended June 30, a month later there was $5.3 million in the budget.
He said the association’s analysis of the budget indicated a 10.6 percent increase in the Distributive School Account.
“We’re asking that you take a skeptical look at the numbers provided by the district,” he said.
According to information provided by the school board, 14 of Nevada’s 17 school districts have settled negotiations.
While a first-year teacher here makes $34,957 a year, third only to Storey and Elko counties, the per-day rate puts Douglas at seventh in the state. The county gains some ground for teachers in the middle range coming up to fifth in per-day pay at $45,471, but falls back to 11th for at the top level with $65,425.
The 2.5 percent raise proposed by the district would take starting teachers to $35,830 and teachers at the top level to $67,060.