‘Absolute heartbreak’: Parents, students try to save Seattle teachers’ jobs as SPS makes cuts

Oct 12, 2023, 6:39 AM | Updated: 8:21 am

cuts schools seattle middle school measles...

(Photo courtesy of KIRO 7)

(Photo courtesy of KIRO 7)

Dozens of teachers’ jobs across Seattle Public Schools are on the chopping block after the district informed families it would be making class size adjustments at some elementary and K-8 schools. A large amount of teachers, parents, and students attended Wednesday evening’s school board meeting to voice their concerns about these changes.

“Absolute heartbreak like it was heartbreak,” Karen Hartman, a parent at Adams Elementary, said.

Her daughter’s third-grade teacher is one of the many who will likely lose their job.

“The kids were devastated and they were like crying and so upset,” Hartman said.

SPS told families the reason behind the shuffling and the changes is because they need to balance educator staffing.

“No money, not enough money for public schools that’s not a good enough answer for me,” Tyler Dupuis, a teacher, said, during public comment at the meeting.

SPS said some students would be moved to new classrooms or have new teachers by the end of the month. The district also said it’s making these moves to ensure it gets $3.6 million in state funding for having the appropriate staff-to-student ratios. However, many parents said that argument doesn’t make sense.

“My kiddos class will get larger, other children will be even more impacted as they will lose a third-grade teacher and the third graders will be sprinkled amongst second graders and it will affect the second graders greatly as well,” Cortney Helmick, another parent at Adams Elementary School, said.

Students there even started a newspaper and collected signatures to try to save their teachers’ jobs.

Hartman’s daughter is one of those students and read the letter to us which said in part, “All Adams students in Mrs. Wyndeses’s third-grade class got surprising news that the class will be split up, kids might be without their friends in new classes.”

During the board meeting, the Seattle Education Association president spoke up saying they were absolutely blindsided by this.

“We need the district to be transparent and honest with the school community about what is happening and what actions it will take especially when mistakes happen,” Jennifer Matter, the SEA President, said.

Superintendent Dr. Brent Jones apologized for the changes but at this point, the cuts are still happening.

“These adjustments are made to ensure that our students benefit from smaller class sizes but also ensure Seattle Public Schools are fiscally responsible,” Jones said.

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‘Absolute heartbreak’: Parents, students try to save Seattle teachers’ jobs as SPS makes cuts