May 26, 2009
Good news for teachers is good news for all
Whew! There are many parents breathing a sigh of relief that the schools their children attend will not be gutted of so many teachers next year. And we can only imagine the relief of the teachers themselves, the 158 who received layoff notices and now have learned that the school district expects to rehire most or all of them next fall. And then, there are the teachers and administrators who are surely celebrating the news instead of dreading the goodbyes to their colleagues when school ends next month.
Let’s take a minute to applaud our district officials for stepping up to rehire those teachers. With state budget cuts of “only” $7.3 million instead of the expected $10.5 million, Superintendent Steve Rasmussen says the district will find a way to rehire all or almost all of those who got layoff notices.
The $7.3 million loss, however, will make this district’s finances squeak even tighter than they already did. Cuts to administrative overhead, bus routes and other nonclassroom-related reductions are the decisions other districts are just now contemplating. The Issaquah School District is hindered by levy lids that provide less funding in the first place (lowest in King County), so those cuts had already been decided here.
Only through teacher attrition (retirements, expiring contracts) will the district be able to sustain the education level students now enjoy, although class sizes are expected to increase by one student each. Not bad, considering the worst-case scenario that could have played out.
But that doesn’t mean the community should relax. The district will be at its absolute leanest without further program or teacher cuts. Classroom volunteers, donated supplies and contributions via the Issaquah Schools Foundation will be more important than ever next year.
Let’s not forget that this is a short-term fix. The 2010-11 budget cycle could be even leaner.