weather icon Overcast

Threat of 1.5K job cuts at CCSD draws rebuke from 2 unions

Updated November 20, 2020 - 4:55 pm

If Clark County School District students don’t go back to campuses this school year, the district may have to cut nearly 1,500 staff jobs, according to a memo presented at a school board meeting Thursday.

The staffing report was prepared at the request of the district’s board of trustees, who asked for an overview of the potential effects if the district remains in a distance learning model throughout the 2020-21 school year, according to the memo.

If students don’t return, the district might look to cut 1,480 positions “directly connected to the physical presence of students in the school buildings,” including 700 custodians, 650 bus drivers, 100 transportation support employees and 30 school police. The cuts would save the district $27.5 million.

The rationale for each cut is that the daily workload would be reduced for those positions with no students on school campuses.

The report was informational only and did not allow for board discussion. No decision on whether the district will resume in-person instruction has been made.

However, several trustees asked to comment on the report, with Trustee Linda Cavazos pointing out that the report was not publicly posted until well after the cut-off time for public comment. Following the meeting, Trustee Danielle Ford described the threat of cuts as a scare tactic and said she hoped the district would find ways to repurpose all staff during distance learning, as well as present options to transition to hybrid learning that could incorporate all employees.

Board president Lola Brooks said after the meeting that the staffing information was requested by Trustee Chris Garvey in preparation for the possibility that schools don’t return to in-person instruction for the rest of the year. No decision to that end has yet been made, she added.

At the Nov. 12 board meeting, Garvey expressed disappointment that the board wouldn’t consider voting on a plan to reopen school buildings to students, and asked for an update on the financial impacts of keeping doors closed.

“We have been paying many, many employees who can’t do distance work,” Garvey said. “The public that pays that salary is now starting to get a little concerned about it.”

On Friday, the unions representing the employees who could be affected released a joint statement admonishing Garvey for the request and stating that education support professionals have been back working in school buildings for months.

“These cuts will be on the backs of essential (education support professionals), and will overwhelmingly impact our minority community,” the statement from Teamsters Local 14 and the Education Support Employees Association said.

”We will note that the research conducted on Trustee Garvey’s request did not list a single Administrator or anyone making over $100,000 per year. Instead, the employees that make as little as $12.90 per hour are the employees listed as potential cuts,” the statement added.

In its own statement after the meeting, the district said it would continue to evaluate all positions within the district and “make additional reduction recommendations if appropriate.”

“CCSD anticipates that the potential continuation of full-time distance education through the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year may lead to a reduction of certain District positions directly related to the lack of a physical presence of students in school buildings,” the statement said. “While the impact of these potential reductions is considered, the district will continue to balance its commitment to fiscal responsibility, operational efficiency, and quality instruction.”

The meeting included no other discussions related to distance learning or reopening schools during the COVID-19 pandemic. On Monday, Superintendent Jesus Jara told staff the district would remain in distance learning through the first semester.

At Thursday’s meeting, the board also discussed a possible revision to its policy on libraries, which would require schools to have certified teacher-librarians in place. According to Garvey, 109 district schools don’t have those positions, meaning some students go through their K-12 careers without a certified librarian.

The policy will come back before the board for final approval.

Contact Aleksandra Appleton at 702-383-0218 or aappleton@reviewjournal.com. Follow @aleksappleton on Twitter.