April 21, 2009
Teacher layoffs will hurt, but parents can help
Issaquah School District administrators will announce the number of teachers it will give layoff notices to at the school board meeting Wednesday night. While they say the number is a moving target up, they make no bones about the fact that the number will be large — and it will hurt.But the community should not panic.
Parents wondering what it will mean to their children will have to wait and see. Take heart in knowing that administrators are not seeking program cuts, and hope they will not be needed. They are also committed to opening Elementary 15, the new elementary school on the plateau, on time as promised, to relieve the crowding at Grand Ridge Elementary School.
With a state budget still undetermined, the actual number of teacher layoffs will not be known until mid-summer. The union contract calls for teachers to be given notice by May 1 — and none after that date. That means district officials must predict the worst, and hope to rehire at least some of those.
The Issaquah Education Association (teacher union) also calls for layoffs to be based on seniority. There is no consideration given to saving those who are the “best” teachers, or those that come with specialized teaching skills for a particular subject.
Other nearby districts are able to make cuts based on need — for example, they might save elementary school teachers and reduce high school teachers if that’s what the need is. It will be interesting to watch IEA negotiations in 2010 to see if that’s an issue worth re-evaluating.
There is one thing parents can be relatively sure of — there will be more students per classroom next fall. Make plans now to become a school or classroom volunteer to help teachers handle the extra workload without sacrificing quality education. And make a commitment to your own students to help give them the one-on-one help they might need with teacher time spread thinner.
The Issaquah School District is in good shape, having already trimmed its budget in all other areas. With community support, ISD students will still get the education they deserve.