Bainbridge School District lays off teachers; foundation gets to work

The Bainbridge Island School District issued seven reduction-in-force letters to teachers this week.

The layoffs are a result of a $403,000 reduction in certificated staffing due to a $1 million budget gap for the 2010-2011 school year.

While the district did not lay off the 9.5 full-time equivalent teachers – which was approved by the school board on April 29 – four full-time and six part-time teachers were also informed their positions were not renewed. Teachers were also made aware of the possibility of new teaching placements next year.

“That’s a pretty painful thing,” said Boo Schneider, president of the Bainbridge Island Education Association. “The district will honor that (teachers) have a contract, whether they have a .5 contract or a 1.0 contract, and they will find a position if that teacher is qualified to teach. But it’s a different placement, and learning a new curriculum, and your heart may have been really connected to what you were previously teaching. In some cases some people had really created a real specialty.”

Reassigning teachers has a great impact on not only the students but also on fellow educators, Schneider said.

“That’s sort of one of those not well understood (things), as far as the pain of it,” Schneider said. “Because it’s horrible for these people to receive RIF notices, but what isn’t seen is all these other movements. Different schools, different departments.”

‘Keep Island Schools Strong’ formed

The Bainbridge Schools Foundation is launching its Keep Island Schools Strong (KISS) campaign this week.

“We’re saving our teachers, but we wanted to turn it into a positive thing,” foundation president Vicki Marsing said.

KISS’ goal is to raise $400,000 by June 30, and another $250,000 by February 2011.

BSF aims to raise more money this year than last year, Marsing said.

“Seventeen were (laid off),” Marsing said. “We brought back seven, but there were 10 total teaching positions that did not get renewed. The teachers got different jobs but the net number of teaching positions was still down 10.”

The foundation has a matching campaign of up to $20,000 for new donors, Marsing said.

“Because a lot of these donors have already given, our focus right now is on participation, and only 45 percent of school-age families donate. Our goal is to get to 100 percent.”

A donation of $15 per month per student would raise $650,000 and save all the threatened teaching positions, Marsing said.

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