School's salary freeze opposed

LYON COUNTY - What some members of the teachers union are calling robbery, Lyon County School District officials are calling a miscommunication.

More than 100 school employees attended Tuesday's Lyon County School Board meeting to discuss this year's salary freeze.

In a special edition of its monthly newsletter, the Lyon County Education Association urged members to address school trustees.

"Could you imagine a thief taking money out of your wallet right in front of a police officer?" asked Steve Fargan, president of the education association, in the newsletter. "They know what they are doing is wrong and they know that they are going to get caught."

He said the salary freeze was a violation of the negotiated agreement, in which teachers are granted a pay increase for each year of service and an additional pay raise for additional university credits earned.

On Friday, the first payday of the school year, employees did not receive those increases.

"Because of this, many of our members have less money in their wallets," Fargan wrote.

However, finance director Wade Johnson said salary negotiations have not yet begun and that the district followed protocol in the meantime.

"That's how we've always done it in the past," he said. "We were under the impression the associations had been notified."

He said that while the budget was being built, the governor called for 6 percent salary decreases for all state workers.

"We decided not to go forward with that," he said. "But we decided we couldn't put in any funds for step increases."

Salary negotiations between district officials and association representatives will begin Tuesday. During that time, Johnson said, decisions will be made regarding increases.

He said if salary increases are decided upon, teachers will receive the money retroactively to the beginning of the school year.

"The fear was if we gave the raises and the funds didn't come through, we'd have to go back and reduce salaries," Johnson said. "It's a lot easier to go back and retroactively pay them for their increases than to take money away."

He said the district wanted input from the associations before making any decisions, and decided to freeze salaries until that time.

Fargan said that's not the way the law works.

"It's real crystal clear," he said. "The old agreement stays in place until a mutual agreement has been agreed upon and ratified by both parties."

About a dozen teachers spoke to board members, urging them to uphold the salary increases.

Fargan said the Lyon County Education Association, working with the Dyer Lawrence Law Firm, will be filing a grievance against the employee management relations board.

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