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Woodland Hills Teachers, Staff Members Protest Proposed Layoffs

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Teachers and staff in the Woodland Hills School District held a protest early Tuesday morning over proposed layoffs.

The protesters, all wearing red, walked into the Woodland Hills Jr./Sr. High School around 6:45 a.m. Red, they say, is the color of education.

The demonstrators say the layoffs would affect dozens of teachers and staff.

The district is planning to cut as many as 70 positions and raise taxes to deal with a $5 million dollar budget deficit.

The protest only lasted for about 15 minutes, but was attended by dozens of district staff members and teachers.

"You're putting students in the Woodland Hills School District at great risk by adopting this plan. You are putting them at risk intellectually by fewer teachers, emotionally through guidance counselors. It's a security problem, you're operating with a skeleton staff if you make these cuts," said Matt Edgell, of the Pennsylvania State Education Association, or PSEA.

Many of the protesters are part of the Woodland Hills Education Association. They say they hope the protest sends a message to the administration that their jobs need to be saved.

Guidance counselor Stacey Kim, who will be laid off if the new proposal goes through, was one of the staff members who joined the wave of red walking into the school.

"It's uplifting to see that my colleges support me. I've been with them for exactly one third of my life, 13 years."

Kim said she hopes the protest might mean something for the students.

Superintendent James Harris said these layoffs are part of a plan to make the school district run more effectively and efficiently.

"School districts furlough every year. It's usually based for financial reasons and it's based on enrollment."

Over the past four or five years, he said the school district has lost 400 years.

"We don't need the same number of teachers because we don't have the same number of students," Harris said.

Edgell, however, didn't believe Harris' reasons were enough to justify 70 jobs being lost.

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