South Kitsap students rally to try to save teachers’ jobs

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PORT ORCHARD — All the pink slips were handed out by Wednesday to dozens of South Kitsap school teachers.

classroomLast week, the school board eliminated 68 positions, 57 of that are actual teaching positions. Students are frustrated and taking their fight all the way to Olympia.

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.

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  • Cody (Student at SK)

    The speculations about the administration getting a pay raise is false. It's about next year's superintendent that is rumored to get an 8% pay raise. Not this year's, but next year's.

    • Travis

      Lets say the next Superintendent is getting an 8% raise in pay…….and just for fun say he makes $200,000 a year. Thats an additional $16,000 a year. Does it seem reasonable that they fired 57 teachers to pay for that increase? No. Not when teachers salaries are between $36,000 and $48,000.
      Its just business. If there is not enough money to go around spending is cut. Still not enough money? Next employees need to be cut. Ask your parents if they want to start paying out of their pocket for your education to retain these teachers….. the answer will be NO. (But your parents do think we should ALL pay more for your education with dollars…..even those of us without kids)
      Ask your teachers about.their unions lobbying efforts in Olympia. This year alone spending $4 million in hopes of swaying politicians to support their various causes. That money, if spent on teachers, would have saved 57 teachers jobs.

  • Tiffany

    As a parent with a daughter heading to SKHS next year, I was already nervous at the size and scope of where she'd be going to school. I remember walking those halls 25 years ago and they felt crowded then. Knowing her classes will be fuller and her choices will be smaller (especially learning that they are cutting the photography program, which is part of her career path) makes me so angry at our state government and the way education gets the short end of every stick.

  • Lenny

    My wife and I attended the school board meeting last night along with our 3 high school kids. We were very proud that ALL the students that showed up were very polite with the board members and very attentive to listening to all the questions and answers they were given. While it was sad to hear that so many teachers 'might' have to be let go if there is no funding received from the State, I was heartened to hear that the school board members would be reviewing the positions and pinkslip notifications to try and ensure that if cuts are made to the teaching staff it would be as minimal as possible…depending on funding received from the State.__My only concern with using seniority as a guide to cutting teachers is that you are left with some teachers that have been teaching for so long that they no longer care about the students and are only there to collect a paycheck. I know that these are few and far between but my wife and I have had the "displeasure" of dealing with one such teacher. Thankfully, that teacher is electing to retire at the end of the year. Unfortunately, where there is one like that there are many more. Sad.

  • Morgan

    You know, a lot of people complain that our government spends too much money. That’s not the problem, it’s that they don’t prioritize what they spend their money on. An education is the single most important thing a person can have. Going to school can teach people the difference between right and wrong, and it can provide people with resources and support for those who are struggling with being a good person for what ever reason. That and extra curricular activities that provide a place for a student can be can help strongly reduce the amount of crimes both in the short and long run. Going to school teaches us good qualities. It teaches us to set an achieve goals, to work your hardest to be rewarded, to help others, to work in groups and alone. Education is the foundation of a person. The government can take your house, your car, everything, but they cannot take away your knowledge. With knowledge you can conquer. But, the government can play a by part in taking away your education. Why do we give nice free meals to inmates while students who are struggling financially, yet are ineligible for aid, have to pay for a hot meal. Why are so many people choosing not to go to college because of the ridiculous amount of money it takes. Why are graduates swallowed by their student loan debts? Young people are our future and this is the land of opportunity. We should all have the opportunities to get a good education. Yet in our biggest school, we are cutting 17 teachers and increasing class size to 30 students. I graduated from S.K. last year and remember how small the school was for 2,100 students. By citing teachers, we are taking away coaches, club leaders, wise mentors, people who can help raise the children of Washington to make our future great. The government really needs to get their priorities straight and start putting their money into things that matter. Afterall, the politicians wouldn’t be where they are had they not been given those extraordinary opportunities to be educated as they were.

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