LAS VEGAS — Officials with the largest school district in Nevada are challenging an arbitration ruling that gave teachers a pay raise.

The Clark County School District filed an appeal Monday in state court in Las Vegas, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported Tuesday. The president of its school board, Deanna Wright, said the arbitrator’s award would force the district to eliminate positions and programs for students.

“The Board of School Trustees would have liked to provide a raise for all employees,” Wright said in a statement announcing the appeal. “Unfortunately, we have been grappling with budget crises for several years in a row — cutting and cutting and cutting our budget.”

The arbitrator’s award on March 30 moved teachers a step up in the salary scale as of June 1. It also increased the district’s monthly health care contributions through the Teachers Health Trust effective July of last year.

The district in a statement said the award runs against state law that protects its ending fund balances. That’s the district’s only reserve for use during a financial emergency.

The district also argues that the trust faces serious financial difficulties and is not paying its bills, which has led to some teachers being turned over to collections.

“Multiple lawsuits have been filed against the (Teachers Health Trust), and it has been reported to (the district) that some health care providers are declining to provide medical services to (Teachers Health Trust) members,” the district’s statement said. “The arbitration decision would require (the district) to pay an additional $20 million to the (Teachers Health Trust) in the next two years, which is not in the best interest of our teachers in the long term.”

The Clark County Education Association union last week said it’s confident the court would order the district to pay the award if it chose to fight it. The union also said that if the district decides to pay the “award through any adverse action taken toward educators,” including eliminating positions, it will treat the action as retaliation and “take any and all legal actions against” the district.


Information from: Las Vegas Review-Journal, http://www.lvrj.com