Carson City's classified school employees will not receive a raise in pay this year, according to the tentative contract passed by the school board Tuesday morning.
"It's nice that we could come to an agreement without having to go to outside arbitration," said John McKenna, president of the Carson City School Board. "It's the result of compromises by both groups."
Members of the Nevada Classified School Employees Association had called on the district to authorize a 2 percent pay increase, as designated by the Legislature.
But district officials argued the money allotted from the state was not enough to fund raises districtwide.
Union members picketed school board meetings and workplaces with slogans such as "Be fair. Give us our share" and "Zero percent, we say no."
However, on Dec. 9, members ratified a contract which does not allow for a pay increase.
"As one of the members put it, 'All I want for Christmas is my 2 percent,'" said Debbie Todarello, president of the union.
School board members approved the three-year contract in a unanimous vote. A provision in the contract allows for negotiations to open again if money for raises becomes available, or if raises are given to other employees.
Both sides also agreed to form a Joint Labor/Management Committee to discuss the salary schedule and job descriptions.
"This truly will allow us to look around and compare where we are with other school districts," said Richard Stokes, associate superintendent of human resources. "We'll find ways we both can view this and look for common ground."
Union representatives have complained that the Carson City School District pays less than surrounding districts.
A survey showed that Carson City's bus drivers are the lowest paid at $9.34 per hour for an entry-level driver, while Douglas County drivers are the highest paid at $11.89 per hour for new hires.
Washoe County is in the middle with $10.14 per hour for those receiving full benefits.
Stokes said those numbers may not represent the entire picture.
"There's a whole lot of things you have to consider when you're talking about wages and benefits," he said. "Salaries are just one component. You also have to factor in insurance and other benefits."
The deadline for the committee to make recommendations was set for May 2004.
The contract also approved a creation of a new position for a coordinator of the high-tech center at Carson High School. Robin Bleuss will fill that job.
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