Teacher layoffs are just the start of budget cut impacts on Spokane schools

Teacher layoffs are just the start of budget cut impacts on Spokane schools
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The community is still working to understand the impacts of the $31 million dollar budget shortfall facing the Spokane Public School District.

The district issued 325 layoff notices in April, citing the multi-million dollar budget deficit. SPS said 182 of those affected are teachers. Thos cuts were based on seniority.

An email sent to parents in the district is shedding new light on other changes planned for next year, spanning for librarian cuts to changes in release times. It also said that the first 41.5 percent of cuts happened away from the classroom. But, that doesn’t mean big changes aren’t coming into classes across the district.

School librarian positions will be gone next year. Those current staff members can apply for teaching positions. Libraries and the associated materials will remain, according to the district, but teachers will help students navigate the areas. Current librarians who apply for open teaching jobs will be awarded them based on seniority.

The elementary school day will see some changes, too. A district email said they are “reimaging the school day.” That includes a 1:45 p.m. early release on Fridays for elementary school students next year. The district said “we are aware the schedule may create after-school care challenges. After-school programming will be an important part of our plan for supporting students and families next year.”

Teachers will work their regular hours on Friday and use the time alone for prep and professional development, according to SPS.

The district’s recent email to parents also explained elementary schools will be shifting to a semester grading structure. That means parents will recieve grades for their kids twice a year, instead of three times.

Some classrooms could get larger and moved to combination rooms because of funding. The district said grades 4-6 and 7-12 could face larger class sizes. Class size reducations have been prioritized, based on available state money, at the K-3 level.

SPS told parents that impacts to classified staff are expected to be shared by May 2. They are finalizing the process and resources before individuals are notified. The email noted that retirements, attrition, and leaving positions unfilled prevented an additional 100 layoffs.

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