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Cuyahoga Falls High School students protest teacher layoff notices

District plans to reduce force by 24; teens chant 'Let them teach'

By STEVE WIANDTReporter Published: May 21, 2017 12:00 AM
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Cuyahoga Falls -- City high school students seemed to apply what they learned in social studies when they demonstrated outside the school on May 16 to protest their teachers receiving layoff notices due to budget cuts planned by the school district.

Delivery of layoff notifications began at the school buildings on May 15.

On May 3, Cuyahoga Falls City School District Superintendent Dr. Todd Nichols proposed the reduction in force of 24 teachers as part of a plan to cut approximately $2 million from the 2017-18 budget. The Board of Education is planning to vote on Nichols' recommendations June 7.

"One of the teachers we've had the whole time we've been in high school is getting fired," said Morgan Lang, who is 16 and a sophomore at Falls High. "She's just getting married and a lot of the people getting fired have kids, and we want them to stay."

Morgan was among approximately 25 students who stood along Fourth Street in front of the high school chanting and waving handmade signs. Led by sophomore Audrey Larlham, the teens shouted, "We stand for teachers," and repeated, "Let them teach."

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Poster board signs bore messages that included, "Put your money where it matters," "No teachers equals no students" and "We care about our teachers. Why don't you?"

"We appreciate the students' support of their teachers and their right to express their opinion in a peaceful manner," said Nichols in an email to the Falls News-Press on May 16.

Morgan said one of her favorite teachers, a social studies instructor, is among those educators being let go. "We just don't want to be in school without her because" Morgan said, pausing mid-sentence to cheer at a car driving past, "because she helps us every day."

As a matter of fact, according to Cassidy Shaffer, another tenth-grader waving a sign and shouting at motorists, that teacher taught her students about protesting.

Many of the students began protesting at 7:20 a.m. and never went inside the school, Morgan said. Others reported to class and then walked out and joined the protesters, she added. A high school administrator referred questions related to the protest to the district office.

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Morgan said she and her friends would like to see the district keep the teachers and cut spending somewhere else. "I think we might be spending money on things we don't need to and I think we should try to keep our teachers," she said. "If we're fundraising to go on field trips like to Cedar Point, we could be fundraising for the teachers and keeping the ones that matter."

"They're not just teachers," said Cassidy. "They're almost family. They're important to us. They help us with our problems. I know I can always go to them and talk to them. It means a lot."

Sophomore Elizabeth Christ said she is losing nearly all of her teachers. "Some of them were just hired and they're good teachers and everybody loves them," she said, "and now they're gone [at the end of the school year]."

Morgan said another teacher being laid off has a baby on the way. A joint statement issued by the district administration and the Cuyahoga Falls Education Association on the district's Facebook page on May 15 stated that they would not release names of laid off staff members until the Board of Education meeting on June 7.

Nichols' plan is to eliminate by the start of the next school year four certified positions in the elementary schools, 12 in the middle schools and eight at the high school, for a total savings of $1.39 million. He also proposes making $426,922 in cuts to classified staff and supplemental contracts, among other measures.

Email: swiandt@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9420

Twitter: @SteveWiandt_RPC


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