Fresno School District Postpones Layoffs After Student-Led Outcry

A student-led campaign to prevent teacher layoffs at Fresno’s Central Unified School District has temporarily succeeded. The school board delayed a vote on Tuesday that likely would have resulted in 10 cut positions. The vote will take place on Feb. 23.

“We were pleasantly surprised to see so many people voicing their perspective,” student Jesly Jimenez told The Fresno Bee’s Education Lab. Jimenez helped found the Coalition for Academic Interest and Reform, a grassroots student organization that advocates against teacher layoffs.

The proposed layoffs stem from a decision the school board made about graduation requirements, as the Bee explains.

In October, board members changed graduation requirements, lowering the credits to 230 from 280 starting in the 2021-22 school year. Subtracting 50 credits allowed students to go from seven to six class periods a day, which reduced the number of teachers the district needed for certain subjects.
Teachers will also be downsizing from six classes to five classes each semester.

Some teachers and students criticized the move, saying the community should have been given more of an opportunity to weigh in.

Central Unified is poised to cut five social science teachers, two Spanish teachers, a PE teacher and a dance teacher, a business teacher, and a drama teacher. They have the right to be rehired if a vacancy occurs within 24 months.

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