District to give layoff notices to 158 teachers

April 23, 2009

By Chantelle Lusebrink

UPDATED – 10:30 a.m. April 23, 2009

Issaquah School Board members voted unanimously to lay off 158 of its 1,097 teachers Wednesday night, after district officials presented their reduction in force plan.

Teachers can expect to receive layoff notices by May 1.

Their contract stipulates that layoffs are based on seniority. Teachers who fall from No.1 to No. 902 on the seniority list are guaranteed positions next year. Teachers who are at or below No. 903 will receive layoff notices.

The positions of up to 195 – 17.8 percent – of the district’s teachers are likely to be eliminated. Thirty-seven teachers have already resigned or weren’t provided continuing contracts for next year.

“We are looking at a number, but we are also looking at people,” said board member Jan Woldseth. “I want to take a moment to realize the emotion behind this decision, the position we are in and take a moment to appreciate that this decision is impacting people’s livelihood, as well as the impact it will have on our classrooms.”

After the district’s budget and enrollment numbers are finalized, several teachers who receive lay-off notices could be called back to work, Kuper said. Callbacks are determined by specialty and seniority.

That recall will likely go on through the summer, said Ron Thiele, associate superintendent.  

District officials made the cuts to combat an estimated $10.5 million reduction in state funding expected this year due to the state’s $9 billion budget gap, said Jacob Kuper, chief of finance and operations for the district.

If the district didn’t draw the line conservatively, officials may have guaranteed more teachers jobs than they could have afforded in the coming year.

“I hate to notify one more person than I need to, but as chief financial officer, I have the fiduciary responsibility to ensure the solvency of the district,” Kuper said.

Although, the state’s budget hasn’t been approved, the district’s contract with the teacher’s union stipulates that teachers must get first notice of potential layoffs by April 22. 

“I think this is an extremely sad day for the students and public education system in our district,” said Neva Luke, president of the Issaquah Education Association. “It goes back to the fact that the Legislature has never accepted responsibility to fund public education. If funding for public education had been given along the way, we wouldn’t be in this situation.”

District officials recommended making $2.17 million in additional cuts. Those reductions will come from hours people work in the maintenance, operations and transportation departments, at the central and building administration levels, and who are educational assistants or secretaries.

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6 Responses to “District to give layoff notices to 158 teachers”

  1. Kim Tally on April 23rd, 2009 12:26 pm

    The loss of a job for ANYONE is terrible, especially a teacher. But the whole seniority crap thing just burns my behind. When are teachers going to be laid off because they suck at their jobs and not because they just happen to be new. I know so many fresh, new. innovative teachers out there and a whole lot of crabby, burned out “senior” teachers. I respect this position (mainly because I don’t have the guts to be one myself), but there are a lot of horrible teachers who will keep their jobs just because they’ve paid their dues. Some simply need early retirement for the sanity of all children, parents and co-workers who surround them. There are many teachers in my family and they agree, but also admit rules set up previously to protect a teacher are not always set up to protect everyone else. I want my children taught by the best, not the one who has been there the longest.

  2. Greg Brumley on April 24th, 2009 11:44 am

    Couldn’t agree more with Kim, what I really care about is that my kids get educated by the best not the one that’s has been around the longest. I would support a system by which two equally great teachers are then assessed by longevity, but to start out with who has been around the logest is just wrong…it isn’t fair to our kids.

  3. Kristina on April 27th, 2009 12:08 am

    I agree with both. Some teachers have no buisness teaching anymore.Learning needs to be healthy for the kids and fun. Keeping the kids interested.Who’s been there the longest isn’t the best choice for my kids.

  4. Lynn Folsom on April 30th, 2009 4:28 pm

    I also agree with both comments but would take it further and get rid of the same percentage of people on the school board and district. In fact I believe that one school board could act for two to three districts. We pay these people way too much for what they do. In addition get rid of tenure and reward the best teachers and get rid of those that are ” going through the motions”.
    Until they get rid of tenure and some of the school boards I will not vote for any school levy

    The school boards should also feel the pain,

  5. christine on May 13th, 2009 5:48 pm

    i agree,,, i have a ton of old teachers that need to leave because they are burning us kids out of school… my favorite teacher is getting laid off becasue he is new.. its not fair and something needs to be done about this whole situation.

  6. Jean Burns on June 18th, 2009 12:50 pm

    I have been teaching quite awhile and I love my job and love my students. I believe that I am good at what I do and walk in my classroom exuberance every day. I’m hurt that parents want to get rid of me simply because I have been teaching longer than others. Sorry I am not a spring chicken!

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