Opinion

Were teacher layoffs actually considered?

On a personal level, it’s good to hear the South Kitsap School District isn’t planning to lay off any teachers during this budget year.

In the present economy, everyone knows someone who’s lost their job and no one wishes that circumstance on anyone else.

At the same time, it isn’t entirely clear how the district plans to fill what it claims is a shortfall of $4 to $7 million without losing at least a few teaching positions — as the Bainbridge, Bremerton, North Kitsap and North Mason — have been forced to.

According to a press release from SKSD earlier this week, Superintendent Dave LaRose said the district has evaluated openings through attrition on a “case-by-case basis” in recent years to close the gaps.

For example, SKSD did not fill six custodial jobs that were vacated before this school year.

LaRose added that the district has eliminated some administrative positions throughout the district via attrition. He said those responsibilities that came with those positions were reassigned to others.

Again, that’s good to hear, but if the district can save $7 million by laying off janitors, those must be plum positions indeed.

Aside from the business of not making clear where there cuts actually will come from, however, it also doesn’t feel quite right that the district had until mid-May to decide whether teacher layoffs would be necessary but apparently took the possibility off the table with several weeks to spare.

Let’s be clear here: No one is suggesting teacher layoffs were necessary. We’re not familiar enough with the district’s budget to say one way or another, and in the absence of facts, we’re willing to take LaRose’s word for it that they weren’t.

It’s just that when you announce with unseemly haste and no small amount of relief that none of your own co-workers will be losing their jobs, you risk creating the impression that saving jobs — rather than saving money — was your highest priority.

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