PORT ORCHARD — All the pink slips were handed out by Wednesday to dozens of South Kitsap school teachers.
Dozens of South Kitsap High students came armed with posters, ready to lobby the school board in hopes of saving their teachers.
“We don’t look at it as money we look at is as our future,” said South Kitsap high senior Gabrielle Wagner.
So, one by one, students went up to the mic to voice their heartbreak.
“I am going to cry,” said one student addressing the board.
Because of union rules, seniority matters so most of the 57 teachers laid off were younger educators
South Kitsap High School alone is losing 17 teachers. It is already the largest high school in Washington with 2,100 students.
“What this will do is increase class sizes across the district,” said South Kitsap Education Association President Judy Arbogast.
Many are wondering could a recent levy increasing property taxes save the day. It is estimated to raise $2 million next year for the school system.
“It’s going right back into our instructional programs and you know the operations of our district,” said Interim Superintendent Bev Cheney.
Cheney says they’ve dipped into their reserves for too long. They’ve cut everything else but teachers until now.
“This has been the most difficult decision I have ever had to make in my life, we have nowhere else to go,” said Cheney.
The pink slips are a done deal unless lawmakers step in.
During the meeting, one school board member pointed the finger at lawmakers who have yet to approve a budget expected to pump more than $1 billion into K-12 education. Wagner doesn’t need a reminder to reach out to Olympia.
“We are emailing the higher-ups over there and sending them messages and getting the word out this is going to affect us.
“I apologize for the state of Washington we ask you all to be accountable and the legislature is not being accountable that is not acceptable,” said State Rep. Jan Angel.
Angel says the legislature will meet June 3 and she promises to push for education funding.
There was some speculation in the schools that some of the top administrators, including the interim superintendent, had recently received a pay increase. Q13 Fox News checked in and found no bump in pay in the last five years.
Students say they will hold another protest next week.