District cuts nine teachers

The Snoqualmie Valley School District has laid off nine teachers as part of nearly $4.1 million in cuts from the district’s general budget.

Layoffs, announced Thursday, May 14, at the Snoqualmie Valley School District Board of Directors meeting, will cut the equivalent of 8 full-time positions. The district has eliminated another 11.5 full-time positions by not filling vacancies created by retiring teachers and teachers on leave.

The cuts will increase class sizes in the district by one student per class, according to district spokeswoman Carolyn Malcolm.

District officials said the cuts would not affect which programs and subjects are offered to students. However, the district eliminated all librarians at secondary schools.

“It’s going to be a substantial change to the programs of the district,” said Art Galloway, head of the teachers’ union in the district. “It certainly won’t be the same quality as we’ve had in the past.”

District officials would not specify where teachers have been cut, but did say that teachers would be transferred between schools to preserve existing programs and subjects, if needed.

Teachers with the least time in the district were laid off first, as set by the collective bargaining agreement between the teachers’ union and the district.

The district won’t know if it needs to transfer any teachers until after it receives its final budget from the state.

The district also plans to cut the equivalent of 15 full-time classified employees, who will have to be notified at least two weeks before school begins in September.

Teachers had to be told about layoffs by Friday, May 15, as set by the collective bargaining agreement.

Principals from the middle schools and Mount Si High School are meeting on Wednesday, May 20, to discuss plans for running libraries without librarians next year.

One librarian was laid off, but the rest will be teaching in classrooms next year to make up for other teachers with less seniority who were laid off.

Several librarians said they are much more beneficial in the library than with one class, and cannot simply be replaced by volunteers

“A librarian who’s also a teacher and knows the curriculum across the grades is a resource that can be very flexible and very adaptable, and that’s valuable way beyond just checking books in and out,” said Janna Treisman, Chief Kanim Middle School’s librarian.

The district continues to work on a plan for cutting middle school extracurricular activities, which will save an estimated $300,000. The bulk of the savings would come from middle school sports, which the district has proposed to change from interscholastic competition to an intramural format.

The district has said it will negotiate with coaches of middle school sports about pay cuts. Coaches’ pay is the largest cost for the middle school sports program.

However, there is no timeline for when a proposal will be sent to the coaches, according to Assistant Superintendent Don McConkey.

Several possible solutions for paying for middle school sports were presented by McConkey at the board meeting.

Even with a $95 participation fee, a sport might require more than $77,000 from the district to fully pay for it, according to McConkey. The example was not for a specific sport, and used numbers from this year’s budget.

“There might be a misperception around the amount of money this generates,” he said to the board.

Other plans include fundraising and allowing community sports programs to pick up some sports.

“The solutions [for keeping sports] suggested in the plan are all feasible, [but] there has to be significant work done with the coaches and advisors to make it a home run for all,” said Dean Snavely, head of the coaches’ association and a music teacher at Snoqualmie Middle School.

The district will update the board at its next meeting, Thursday, May 28.

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