2,300 teachers lose their jobs – so far - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

2,300 teachers lose their jobs – so far

SPOKANE, Wash. - The Washington Education Association has confirmed that at least 2,300 public school teachers have received layoff notices, and the number is expected to increase as additional information is collected over the next 10 days.

Today, May 15, is the deadline for school districts to issue layoff notices to certificated staff for the 2009-10 school year. The notices also are known as reduction-in-force (RIF) notices.

The Washington Edcuation Association says the teacher layoffs will result in overcrowded classrooms and are the direct result of the Washington Legislature's decision to cut $1.5 billion in school funding over the next two years.

The 2,300 figure does not include jobs eliminated through attrition, such as retirements. The final number of lost teaching jobs is expected to be much higher. The impact on schools is the same either way: Fewer teachers and more students in each classroom.

Meanwhile, school budget cuts and the impact on students are the hot topic at the annual Washington Education Association's convention in Spokane. The convention, in which 1,200 educators meet, coincides with the May 15 deadline for teacher layoff notices.

The biggest issue up for discussion and debate will be the state Legislature's decision to cut $2 billion in K-12 and higher education funding. Washington school districts already have announced the possible elimination of at least 2,500 teaching jobs through attrition and layoffs, and more are expected by Friday. Thousands of education support staff jobs also may also be eliminated or reduced.

The WEA's Representative Assembly started Thursday night and runs through Saturday evening. It's the WEA's highest decision-making body. Delegates set the organization's agenda for the next year and stake out positions on major education issues.

Educators also will discuss the impact of recently approved House Bill 2261, which WEA opposed because it attempts to dramatically overhaul K-12 education but includes no actual funding.

Gov. Chris Gregoire and Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown were guest speakers Thursday night. Congressman Jay Inslee will speak Saturday morning.

The Washington Education Association represents 82,000 certificated educators, education support professionals, higher education faculty members and retired educators.

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