Spokane Public Schools lays off 103 teachers - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

UPDATE>> School-by-school breakdown of layoffs

Spokane Public Schools lays off 103 teachers

Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Staci Vesneske Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Staci Vesneske
Randy Ott, a special education teacher, received a lay off notice Tuesday Randy Ott, a special education teacher, received a lay off notice Tuesday

VIEW: School-by-school breakdown of layoffs

SPOKANE, Wash. - In an interview with KHQ Tuesday afternoon, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Staci Vesneski announced 103 teachers received layoff notices.

The 103 teachers are part of a group of 193 Spokane Public Schools teachers that was told earlier this month that most of them will be laid off. Vesneski says the number of teachers receiving layoff notices Tuesday is less than expected.

More Information

- Washington State Report Card
- Washington School Rankings

Vesneski says the district is hopeful that most of the teachers will be recalled for the 2009-2010 school year. Though an exact number was not available, Vesneski estimated the number is in the 80 to 90 percent range.

"My prediction is that the vast majority of the teachers will be recalled," Vesneski said.

The teachers that received layoff notices will finish the current school year before the layoffs become effective.

As with the layoffs, the rehire process will be based on seniority, reversed in the case, with the most senior teachers being rehired first. Vesneski added that in spite of the layoffs, quality instruction in the district will continue.

The teacher layoffs are a result of a $9 million budget shortfall in the District and an overall $9 billion state budget deficit.

Decreases in enrollment and state funding are being blamed for the budget shortfall. The state provides about 70 percent of the revenue for Washington schools. For Spokane Public Schools, that represents $211 million of next year's expected operating budget of $308 million.

Vesneski said that in addition to the teacher layoffs, the district is making cuts elsewhere. She said some vacant positions within the district are not being filled and other clerical positions are being cut. Vesneski noted that these cuts will impact the service to individual schools, rather than the schools directly.

Vesneski also pointed out that impending retirements will increase the number of teachers that could be recalled. When teachers retire this summer it will free some money for more rehires.

The district has been seeking parents' comments on what to fund and what to cut ahead of a budegt finalization expected this summer. Vesneski said many of the comments received from parents requested that certain teachers, who had made a positive impact on their child, not be laid off. The emails also centered around cuts being made in the central office rather than in schools.

Vesneski said that these budget decisions have been based on unknowns, with Stimulus funding being a large unknown factor. She said that schools will be receiving between $5 and $7 million is federal money, but there are restrictions on how that money can be spent. Right now, it appears that funding is limited to Special Education and Tier 1 students (students in poverty). The district is investigating the flexibility of the funds to see if they can be used for teachers. More information should become available in the next two weeks.

Also Tuesday is the first of two public forums regarding the Spokane Public Schools' budget.

The forum Tuesday night is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Chase Middle School and the second one will held Thursday at Glover Middle School, also at 7 p.m. Spokane Public schools is seeking parents' comments on what items to cut from the budget before it is finalized in the summer. You are invited to voice your opinions at the forums or email Communications Director Terren Roloff at terrenr@spokaneschools.org.

Those who attend the forums will be asked two questions:

What alternative reduction options would you recommend as budget cutting solutions, if funding is worse?

If funding is better, what programs would you recommend be restored or improved?

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