The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.

The Hawkeye

The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.

The Hawkeye

The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.

The Hawkeye

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Periods cut, teachers travel


Editor’s Note: This version of the story is an update of the original story that appeared in print in the October issue of the Hawkeye. The names of teachers Daniel Johnston and Rob Spence were inadvertently swapped in the print edition.

Students and teachers in several classes at MTHS were informed that their schedules would be changed on Friday, Sep. 14 due to the Edmonds School District (ESD) mandating that MTHS cut six classes from its schedule. Many MTHS students were affected by the change, and not just the students in the cut classes, as some teachers were forced to take teaching positions at other schools within the ESD and other teachers had to take over several of their classes. This resulted in a cycle of students being shuffled to different teachers and periods to ensure that students were able to keep as many classes as possible in schedules with as few changes as possible. Changes were finalized by the counseling office and took effect on Wednesday, Sep. 19.

Classes that were collapsed, moved to a different teacher or cut included AP Literature and English 9 taught by Robert Reichle, Geometry taught by Daniel Johnston, Algebra 2 taught by Tatyana Malysh and Clay Design 1 taught by Michael Denoma.

The ESD mandated these class closures in response to an over-projection of students who would be coming be to MTHS that was completed by the school district before the start of the school year. However, based on the fourth-day attendance report completed by all schools within the ESD, it was found that MTHS had far fewer students than were projected. MTHS was over-projected by 123.25 students, the equivalent of five full-time teaching positions.

Greg Schellenberg sent a statement out to MTHS students and families who were affected by the schedule changes.

“As the result of a significant shortfall of students from the number who were projected to attend MTHS this school year, we have been directed by the District Office to make necessary teacher staffing reductions,” Schellenberg said. “Regrettably, we must close several classes and re-assign students to new classes as a result of these staffing reductions.”

Schellenberg said that he recognized that a forced schedule change for a large number of students over a week into the school year would be harmful, but emphasized that the mass schedule change was an unavoidable mandate from the district.

“We recognize the impact that this has on our students as we are already over a week in to the new school year and we regret having to disrupt student schedules,” Schellenberg said. “However, this is unavoidable due to the requirement that we reduce our staffing to match our lower than expected student enrollment.”

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In addition to the severe over-projection of students at MTHS, three other high schools in the ESD were found to have significantly under-projected student numbers. Edmonds-Woodway High School under-projected by 28.31 students (one full-time teaching position), Lynnwood High School under-projected by 103.40 students (nearly five full-time teaching positions) and Meadowdale High School under-projected by 45.62 students (two full-time teaching positions).

Since estimated student counts drive funding for classes and staff positions, the ESD determined that MTHS had an unfair share of teaching positions and class funding compared to the other high schools in the district which were struggling with accommodating more students than they had anticipated. To correct this, teachers and classes were transferred from MTHS to the schools which had under-projected student counts.

The ESD attributed the projection errors to unexpected demographic changes in the areas north of Seattle, with fewer families with adolescent children preparing to enter high school moving into the MTHS service area.

The ESD has made it clear that no staff members will be fired due to the projection errors. This is a different approach than the Seattle School District which also suffered severe projection errors, over-projecting by 1,114 students, which necessitated them laying off staff members in 18 Seattle area schools.

However, MTHS staff members will be required to have some classes transferred to the under-projected schools such as Lynnwood, Edmonds-Woodway and Meadowdale. While staff members will not be required to be completely transferred away from MTHS, they will be required to teach for specified periods at other schools. Other MTHS teachers will take on the classes that these teachers were forced to give up to teach at other schools.

Andi Nofziger is the president of the Edmonds Education Association (EEA), the labor union that represents teachers in the ESD. She described how the school district transferring teachers to under-projected schools was able to fit within the ESD teacher contract.

“The teacher’s workday still has to conform to the collective bargaining agreement,” Nofziger said. “In order to have time to travel between worksites, typically traveling teachers do not have a PASS period, advisory period or such so that they can use this time as planning time. If they do not get their minimum planning time daily because of traveling and the extra time it takes to pack up and set up in multiple locations, then they get paid extra for their time since the planning has to be done outside the contract day.”

In addition, teachers are paid per mile that they have to travel between the two schools at which they work. As for who is chosen to be transferred when a teacher transfer is necessitated, that is specified by the collective bargaining agreement between the district and the EEA.

“First, the administrator asks for volunteers,” Nofziger said. “If no one volunteers, then the person with the least in-district experience in the applicable teaching category is transferred.”

Due to the specifications of the teacher contract, teachers in the ESD, and in other school districts, do not have the right to refuse a transfer if they are chosen by the administration to be transferred to teach at another school within the same district.

“When [teachers] are hired, [teachers] are hired by the district–there is not a guarantee that [teachers] will teach the subject or at the location of the original job that is posted,” Nofziger said. “The district has the right to redistribute staffing or change teaching assignments to meet the needs of buildings and students.”

Teachers are not required to teach classes in subject areas outside of their area of expertise unless there is an emergency where a suitable teaching candidate for that subject area cannot be found.

“The teaching categories in which the transfers occurred where based on the needs of the receiving buildings,” Nofziger said. “Teachers are not allowed to teach out of their certification areas without approval from the School Board and an emergency certificate from the State of Washington, where the district has to prove there were no qualified applicants with the correct certification.”

Teachers have been required to teach different classes, both at other schools within the ESD and at MTHS, but these classes are all within their subject area of expertise.

“The teachers may not be teaching the exact same classes they were teaching, but it is something they are certified for,” Nofziger said. “For example, a math teacher may have been assigned Geometry at MTHS, and the receiving school needs Algebra I classes, but it’s all math.”

Teachers who were transferred to teach some periods at other schools were allowed two days of release time to unpack at their new schools and prepare materials for their new classes. Teachers who took on new students in their classes will receive a stipend if their class sizes go above the “trigger” of 32 students, with that stipend increasing for every two students above that “trigger.”

One teacher who has been affected by these changes is math teacher Dino Aristides, who took on a new geometry class due to math teacher Rob Spence being forced to give up his math classes so that he could teach classes at another high school within the ESD. Aristides emphasized the challenge of students having to adapt to new teaching styles.

“My fourth-period algebra two regular was switched to a fourth-period geometry regular, and so those students [who] were used to me teaching a certain style for a week are now getting a different [teaching] style,” Aristides said.

MTHS senior Emma Agricola was devastated when she heard the news of english teacher Robert Reichle’s transfer to Meadowdale High School for the first three periods of the school day, meaning that he would no longer be able to teach his first period AP Literature class.

“I think it’s very unfair because [Reichle’s] been here for almost a decade and he knows he loves what he teaches; he’s very passionate,” Agricola said. “I’ve only known him for a week, but you can already tell the classroom has a connection because when the [AP Literature] class heard the news [of his transfer], the entire room was just in an uproar.”

Originally students in the AP Literature were told that the class being cut completely, which triggered panic in some of the students.

“One of the [administrators] told us that we weren’t going to be able to have an AP Literature class anymore and [I] freaked out, because I’m a Running Start person, and this is my English,” senior Brielle Eggebraaten said. “I need my English to graduate. So I kind of freaked out and had a heart attack because I didn’t think it was going to work with my schedule.”

However, it was soon clarified by the MTHS administration that, although the AP Literature teacher would change, the class would still be offered during first period. It was later determined that English teacher Michael McLaughlin would take over the first period AP Literature class, meaning that he had to give up his first period English 11 class.

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About the Contributors
Nolan DeGarlais
Nolan DeGarlais, Editor-in-Chief
Editor-in-Chief Nolan DeGarlais is in his senior year of high school and is a fourth-year staff member of the Hawkeye. This year, Nolan hopes to lead the Hawkeye in coverage of all of the events that have the potential to impact the school community. Nolan also hopes to further develop the Hawkeye as an editor and a leader by helping other staff members to be successful in all aspects of journalism, including writing, graphics, photography and design. Under his leadership, Nolan hopes that the Hawkeye will continue to shine as one of the top student publications in the state and nation. In his free time, he enjoys reading, hiking, watching movies and spending time with friends.
Jake Paulsene
Jake Paulsene, Co-Photo Editor
Jake Paulsene is a senior at MTHS and a photographer with a passion. While he primarily covers sports, he is interested in all facets of photography—those being art, portraits, etc. Through Hawkeye, he plans to expand his photography skills to a whole new level and hopefully, become a better writer along with it.
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