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Centurion Spotlight

The Student News Site of Cypress High School

Centurion Spotlight

The Student News Site of Cypress High School

Centurion Spotlight

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AUHSD Plans To Lay Off Over 100 Teachers

RIF Notices Sent To 253 Teachers Before March 15 Deadline
Students like this Loara student attended the Board meeting to support teachers. (photo by Rehansa Kulatilleke)

Recently, the AUHSD sent 253 notices to teachers, notifying them that they are at risk of being laid off from their jobs. On Thursday, March 7th, the district held a public school board meeting to discuss a collection of topics including teacher layoffs, which has led students, teachers, parents, and alumni to question whether or not the AUHSD has made the right decision.

Cypress Senior Kylie Madrid shared how important her teachers have been to her. (photo by Rehansa Kulatileke)

According to the district, as a result of the declining number of enrolled students in the district, several budget cuts have to be made. Over 250 teachers received a RIF notice–(Reduction in Force, also known as a layoff). RIF regulations are determined by state law. The final decision, with some exceptions, will be made based on the seniority of the teachers. Teachers who have worked within the AUHSD for an extended period will have a higher chance of keeping their current position, whereas teachers who have only just recently joined the district are more subject to getting laid off. The final decision will be effective at the beginning of the 2024-2025 school year. Shockingly, teachers who have been working for AUHSD for up to 22 years received notices. The Board did not approve any layoffs in other departments, such as counseling, clerical staff, or district office personnel.

Naturally, people are upset with the news partly because there will be approximately 110 fewer jobs, while so many more teachers received a RIF notice. The district plans on sending the list of teachers who are confirmed to be laid off starting March 15th throughout August. Cypress ASTA Representative (Teachers Union) and Culinary teacher, Mrs. Karapoulios shared, “After March 15th, as the district gets a better feel for what all the schools will need in staffing they could possibly start the process of rescinding the RIF notices.”  Rescinding the notices can take until the beginning of the next school year.

Students and other community members showed up in force to support teachers. (photo by Rehansa Kulatilleke)

Teachers, students, parents, and even alumni from all over the district attended the board meeting on March 7th, 2024 which was scheduled to include topics including the teacher layoffs. Students wore red shirts to symbolize their support for teachers with the phrase “Red for Ed.” In the earlier part of the meeting, the Assistant Superintendent of Business Services, Nancy Nien, explained why making a great deal of budget cuts would be ideal for the future of the AUHSD. Chairperson for the Bylaws Committee–Alan Walker also explained what the district spent some of its bond money on, including some things approved by voters such as new renovations and projects that ultimately cost tens of millions of dollars. Some projects included building a cyber security building in Magnolia High School that would cost 47.9 million dollars. Along with that, the district announced that they are planning to pay for a $450,000 feature that allows eKadence to check for AI on information being received from teachers, while we’ve already spend over $100K on Google Suite, including Google Classroom.

Following the news about teachers potentially losing their jobs, students, teachers, and alumni gathered for the open discussion portion of the meeting to relate how teachers have played an important role in their lives and how some of them would not be the people they are without their teachers. A senior from Oxford High School spoke out by saying, “Despite us students being fairly young, we’ve gone through enough schooling to understand the basic math equation. No educators equal no education….Why boast about the pride and the programs that we offer and the facilities we are constructing if we can’t help to keep the teachers that provide the most benefits to our students? Why should they bear the burden of our budgeting problems?… Is AUHSD education working for students, or is it the other way around?”  Despite the pleas of students and other speakers, the board agreed to continue with their plans and voted unanimously for 110 layoffs. Board member Anna Piercy was absent.

So many students, staff, and community members were present at the School Board meeting that two “overflow” rooms were required. (photo by Centurion Spotlight)

Students from all over the district are uniting to help the teachers who have always stood by them. Students from Cypress such as Gavin Kim, have helped create petitions to stand up for teachers. On March 14, students at Brookhurst Junior High planned to march to the AUHSD offices in protest. Other students from Oxford have created social media accounts to spread more information about the teacher layoffs, gaining the support of a total of 800 followers of not only students but parents and alumni as well. A junior at Cypress, Abby Tafesse shared, “I think I speak for everybody when I say that it’s bad…I can tell you most of those teachers genuinely care about their job–they care about their students…when it’s teachers in the VAPA department that have spent over 20 years, decades, and

Superintendent Michael Matsuda (rt.) recently posted a YouTube video explaining the district’s reasoning about why teacher layoffs are necessary. (photo by Rehansa Kulatilleke)

decades in this department–this is their lives worth–to be laid off it just seems like they’re not very considerate about their work that they do and the change that affect students’ lives.” 

Last year at this time some teachers also got the same news that they might get laid off. Different from this year, the number of teachers who were laid off was substantially less than the number of layoffs expected this year.

Students and teachers from all over the district are seeking a way to potentially reverse the call for teacher layoffs. As of March 10, 2024, the initial petition Save Our Teachers Petition has collected over 3,000 signatures signed by students and teachers.

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About the Contributor
Rehansa Kulatilleke, Distribution Chief
 Hi! My name is Rehansa and I am a junior here at Cypress! This is my first year in journalism and I can't wait to finally be a part of it! I joined journalism because I love writing and would love to write more in the future. Some fun facts about me are that I love Marvel, reading, and listening to music. Some of my favorite artists are Arctic Monkeys, Taylor Swift, and Harry Styles!
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