Mindy Casey, a music teacher at Woodridge Elementary, went on maternity leave last Wednesday. Her son’s due date is on May 10.

By nature, pregnancies can cause some nervousness, but Casey’s case is leading her towards anxiety.

“He (my son) was diagnosed last fall with Down syndrome, which itself is not really a scary thing. It’s the health complications that can go with it, which we might not even know what those are until after he’s born,” Casey said.

While she prepares to welcome her first child to the world, Casey’s on the verge of closing the door on, what she calls, her “dream job.”

“I spent Monday and Tuesday telling them (her students) I’d see them again in the Fall. Wednesday, I found out that might not be happening,” she said.

Last Wednesday, Casey was notified she’d be laid off at the end of the school year. She’s one of 325 Spokane Public Schools employees, including 182 teachers, who will be laid off due to budget constraints. The state’s new funding model reduced local levy capacity by $42.6 million over two years, SPS Superintendent Dr. Shelley Redinger said last week.

Casey has been a substitute teacher for years, so when she was offered a full-time position as a teacher, it was a dream come true. However, she believes her short status as a full-time teacher (instead of a substitute, which is a part-time position) is why she’s one of the 325 being laid off. Multiple district employees previously told KHQ seniority is connected to the layoffs, meaning those with fewer years of employment with SPS are being laid off first.

“The district’s hands are tied. We have a cap on our levy and we’ve already reached that cap. So, if the cap can be removed or raised, it’s possible all of this can be reversed… but if it isn’t? We’re going to face some serious cutbacks to libraries, music, and the arts,” Casey said.

Other than losing her dream job, Casey’s fear is that music programs throughout Spokane Public Schools will eventually be shut down due to funding issues.

“My passion is music. I’ve always been incredibly shy and the best way for me to express myself is through music. It’s what kept me motivated in school and I see so many of that in my students. There’s also students who aren’t going to be successful with other subject areas, and their only success is going to be in music. We’re taking that away from them by removing these programs,” she said.

As her son’s arrival inches closer by the day, Casey isn’t sure how she’s going to deal with the inevitable medical bills.

“Losing my job, I’m also losing my benefits, so he will be losing his benefits as well,” she said.

However, she’s not giving up. While her son’s due date on May 10 has her primary attention, she also has her eyes on another date: April 28, the last day of the state’s legislative session.

“There’s still some hope because if the public can understand what’s going on they can help us… by writing to our legislators to get the cap on the levy removed or raised,” Casey said.

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