High school officials press on with furlough talks | TheUnion.com

High school officials press on with furlough talks

Negotiations on a five-day furlough for all Nevada Joint Union High School District employees are moving forward and are “not stuck in neutral,” according to Superintendent Ralf Swenson.

Union representatives reporting at a brief board meeting Wednesday night hinted a breakthrough was close at hand in the ongoing talks, which continued from Tuesday for teachers.

“Truly, the whole team walked away with a good feeling,” said teachers union president Jim Drew. “Both groups have come to the consensus that maybe we need to share this a little more.”

Among classified staff, the time had come to re-examine the district administration’s three- and five-day furlough plans, according to the union’s representative.

“We all have to do something,” said Kevin Atkins, president of the classified staff union. “We’re trying to do our part to help.”

District officials have proposed five furlough days to cut $500,000 from the district’s $31 million budget. The savings would partly close the gap on a $2 million budget shortfall, but layoffs are expected in any scenario.

The teachers union goes back to the bargaining table Monday, then district administrators are expected to offer a counter proposal. Preliminary layoff notices must be served to certificated employees by mid-March, but the actual number of jobs lost depends partly on the outcome of the negotiations.

For the classified employees, talks resume March 15.

Drew also addressed editorials about the furlough negotiations published in The Union over the past few weeks.

“It’s really, really unfortunate that some of those things were brought out about the teachers,” he said.

Beyond work at the school board level, Swenson said, teachers, staff, administrators and community members ought to be urging elected state officials to stop cutting school funding.

“We, as ‘school people,’ … need to demand adequate support for public education,” he said.

To contact Staff Writer Michelle Rindels, e-mail mrindels@theunion.com or call (530) 477-4247.

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