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Legislative Positions

Memo: NSEA Seeks Amendment to SB231

While NSEA appreciates the intent of Senate Bill 231 to deliver raises to Nevada educators, NSEA has submitted an amendment to facilitate a Clean 20 for every Nevada educator. NSEA’s amendment would increase the appropriation to $500 million to meet this moment of crisis in Nevada schools. It's Time For 20.
Published: May 18, 2023 Last Updated: June 3, 2023

NSEA’s amendment would increase the appropriation to $500 million to meet this moment of crisis in Nevada schools. It is intended to provide the right-sized salary and benefit increases for all school district employees; include some flexibility for salary increases to allow the lowest paid employees to get to a certain minimum hourly amount; and to ensure the appropriation will be made to the State Education Fund, so it will not reduce the amounts that will otherwise be allocated to school districts pursuant to NRS 387.1212 and 387.1214

SB231 as introduced leaves behind several Nevada school districts.

Every Nevada educator deserves a raise. That’s why NSEA has concerns with the overall construct of SB231 as a matching program. Even with increases to the State Education Fund passed in SB503, the Storey County School District is actually projected to receive about 5% less funding next fiscal year. Several other school districts are projected to receive only small increases in their funding. These Nevada school districts will likely have limited ability to produce the other sources of funds necessary to access the matching funds provided in SB231, especially as fixed, non-personnel costs have increased dramatically since FY20. Therefore, the mechanism provided in SB231 will likely fail to provide significant raises for educators across several Nevada school districts.

An unintended consequence of SB231, as introduced, could be even larger class sizes.

In the zero-sum game of district budgeting, there is often a see-saw effect between employee compensation and class size. With limited funds, increased educator pay can mean larger class sizes and vice-versa. NSEA is concerned SB231 could incentivize districts to sacrifice efforts at reducing class sizes to access matching funds. For classroom educators, the issues of educator pay and class size are both of critical importance. That’s why NSEA’s Time for 20 campaign balances the goals of increasing educator pay while also reducing class sizes.

School districts express concern over the one-time nature of funds in SB231.

Several school districts, including the Clark County School District and the Washoe County School District have expressed concerns that SB231’s appropriations are one-time funds, and they are hesitant to use them to cover an ongoing expense like educator pay. During public comment on SB231, the Clark County School District testified they would only like to use the one-time funds in SB231 to offer one-time bonuses. While bonuses are ok in certain situations, educator bonuses paid for with Rescue Plan dollars haven’t noticeably reduced the number of educator vacancies. Nevada educators are in desperate need of ongoing salary increases, as our inflation-adjusted salaries have dramatically decreased in recent years

SB231 falls short of a stated goal of 10% raises as well as the 20% gold standard set in Time for 20.

During the initial rollout of the $250M matching program in February, the single organizational supporter claimed the funds “equate to a 10% increase in salaries for all educators, licensed professionals and support staff in the first year of the upcoming biennium, as well as an additional adjustment to account for inflation in the second year.” However, according to the Clark County School District, these funds would not cover the district’s costs of a 10% increase for just that single school district. Furthermore, even a 10% increase in educator pay falls grossly short of what is needed to hire and retain educators to teach our students and make our schools run

This is why NSEA has been saying it’s Time for 20.

Time for 20 means a 20% raise for every Nevada educator, a $20/hour minimum wage in our schools, and average class sizes of 20 students. Since the COVID pandemic, educators left their jobs in record numbers due to low pay and severely low morale. At the mid-point of this school year, there are still thousands of school vacancies, with many more positions being covered by long-term substitutes or, in some of our rural areas, privately contracted virtual teachers. A December report from the Economic Policy Institute found there is a widespread national teacher shortage that is especially severe here in Nevada. They found the current shortage is not the result of an insufficient number of qualified teachers, but rather low pay and an increasingly stressful work environment. The average pay differential between teachers and similar college graduates in the job market has grown to 23.5%. While critical to the operations of schools, education support professionals tend to be at the bottom of district pay scales, with some ESPs making as little as $11/hour and an overwhelming majority making less than a living wage. Last year, over 1600 CCSD workers were enrolled on Medicaid. Education support professionals usually reflect the Nevada communities they serve, with about half of education support professionals across the state being people of color. A 20% raise is only necessary to help districts fill vacant positions, it is also necessary to pull thousands of education workers out of poverty – an issue of both economic and racial justice.

NSEA offers amendment language to deliver a Clean 20 for Nevada educators.

Time for 20: Clean 20

With nearly $3 billion recommended for reserves between the expanded State Rainy-Day Fund and the Education Stabilization Fund, there are more than enough resources available to fund and sustain 20% educator raises and guarantee every education employee makes a living wage. NSEA’s amendment would increase the total appropriation in SB231 from $250M to $500M, giving districts like Washoe and Clark County the opportunity to negotiate significant increases in salary. The amendment would delete the matching mechanism, allowing all districts to access funds proportionately and increase pay equitably. Flexibility would be granted to districts to first increase starting pay for employees earning less than $20/hour. Finally, monies would be appropriated to the State Education Fund to ensure their availability to continue to fund personnel into the future.

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NSEA has been the voice of educators for over 120 years. We represent teachers, education support professionals, and other licensed professionals throughout the state of Nevada.