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State teacher's union calls on Nevada lawmakers to pass overhaul of K-12

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The state teacher's union is calling on lawmakers to pass a significant overhaul of Nevada's K-12 public education system. The Nevada State Educators Association wants smaller classes and more pay for teachers and support staff.

With the 2023 Legislative session drawing to a close, lawmakers in Carson City could soon pass a state budget that will put more than $11 billion toward K-12 schools over the next two years.

If approved, it would mark the largest public education budget in state history, but many teachers say the proposed funding doesn't do enough to address teacher labor concerns.

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Instead, union leaders say lawmakers should dip into those cash reserves to lower class sizes to 20 students each. They also want an across-the-board 20% pay raise for teachers and a $20 minimum wage for school support staff.

NSEA President Dawn Etcheverry said the money is needed to recruit and retain more teachers.

"If we don't come up to that 20 [percent], I fear we're going to see a mass exodus, especially when Los Angeles just got their raises. New Mexico has it, and our states around us are getting this."

Lawmakers say their proposed budget includes $250 million for teacher pay raises.

The union's demands come as the Democrat-led Legislature prepares for a budget showdown with Republican Governor Joe Lombardo over school choice funding.

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Policymakers have until June 5 to craft a state budget or risk a special session.

Paul serves as KNPR's producer and reporter in Northern Nevada. Based in Reno, Paul specializes in covering state government and the legislature.