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'Save our teachers': Rogers HS students protest SPS layoffs with walkout

A student organizer cited a high number of layoffs at Rogers and disparity among Spokane schools as reasons for students' protesting.

A group of students at Rogers High School participated in a walkout on Wednesday morning after Spokane Public Schools announced 325 layoff notices at schools throughout the area.

Students chanted "Save our teachers," while holding signs that read, “We love our teachers" and "we won’t go down without a fight.”

One Spokane teacher told KREM that she is one of 16 certified staff members laid off from John R. Rogers High School in North Spokane. In her post on Facebook, Stacie Collier said the layoffs are disproportionate because some schools aren’t seeing any layoffs at all.

KREM asked Spokane Public Schools spokesperson Brian Coddington why the layoffs appear disproportionate, with some schools seeing more teachers laid off than others.

He attributes this to fluctuating turnover rates throughout the district.

"So they've got newer or younger staff, newer in their profession I should say. Some schools in the district are going to have a greater turnover. So that means they're going to have staff that's not quite as tenured in their career at Spokane Public Schools," Coddington said.

Coddington did not confirm the number of staff from each school who are facing layoffs.

Rogers Choir told KREM that its director Sara Carroll is among the employees laid off at Rogers.

Lewis and Clark High School’s choir sent a message of support to Rogers High that reads, “Rogers Choir, you’ve got a friend in us.”

Credit: Rogers Choir

Kalli, a freshman at Rogers, helped organize Wednesday's walkout at the school. She cited a high number of layoffs at Rogers and disparity among Spokane schools as reasons for the protest.

“Lewis and Clark isn’t losing teachers and Shadle isn’t losing teachers. We’re losing 16 teachers and altogether 22 staff members and that isn’t fair,” Kalli said. “I’m losing three teachers that have helped me through some of the stuff that some of my friends don’t even know about. It’s just kind of hard just to be OK with that.”

“I’m just so glad that people are out here supporting the teachers because, like me, they don’t want to see them go and it’s just really heartwarming to know people are here behind me,” she added.

Watch a Facebook Live of the walkout below: 

Kalli says she wrote a letter to the Washington state Legislature expressing a situation that she called unfair.

“I’m hoping that they will hear us and take note of how this is all affecting us,” she added.

RELATED: Washington school districts preparing for layoffs, higher class sizes

She said she also wants the school district to know that the amount of teachers leaving Rogers is unfair. 

“They are very important to us, especially the newer teachers, because they have more of an understanding of what’s going on with our generation and more patience to deal with us,” Kalli added.

Spokane Public Schools publicly issued layoff notices to 325 staff members on Thursday, April 11. That includes 182 teaching level-staff.

RELATED: Spokane Public Schools issues 325 layoff notices, citing change in funding model

The layoffs were based on seniority, according to the district.

The district currently has 4,110 employees, Coddington said. The cuts account for an 8 percent reduction in staff overall.

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