At least 2,300 school teachers have gotten notices saying they might be laid off, and the number is expected to rise, according to the Washington Education Association.
From a statement put out by the 82,000-member union:
The 2,300 figure does not include jobs eliminated through attrition, such as retirements. The final number of lost teaching jobs is expected to be much higher. The impact on schools is the same either way: Fewer teachers and more students in each classroom.
School districts also are laying off education support professionals, including classroom aides, secretaries and other classified school employees. There is no legal deadline for issuing layoff notices to classified staff.
Speaking to a gathering of WEA members in Spokane yesterday, Gov. Chris Gregoire said she sympathized, but that everyone's sharing in the pain of budget cuts. And she has repeatedly said that basic education was shielded from cuts that were far deeper in other sectors of state spending. From an AP story:
Gregoire said she was at a loss to make teachers feel better in the present economic climate.
"...I can't express in words how disappointed I am, as I know you are, that as a result of the nation's financial crisis that hit our state like a ton of bricks in November, we have retreated from that progress," she said.
Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown also spoke, telling WEA delegates that the state's sales-tax-based tax structure needs to be revamped to be more stable and fair. Brown has floated the idea of a state income tax on people earning $250,000 or more, although the idea went nowhere in Olympia this year. She told delegates she would need their help for such a change.