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Students, teachers brace for the effects of the upcoming reductions

Some feel the impact of the cuts already
By: Lauren Weber, The Placer Herald
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Pink slips have been handed out across Rocklin Unified School District last month, but now may be the worst part — possible final layoffs. On or before May 15, final reduction in force notices may be administered throughout the district to meet the budget shortfall. Until then, it’s a game of waiting. Granite Oaks Middle School language arts teacher Shannon Maveety, 39, received her first pink slip in more than 12 years in the educational sector because of her lack of time spent teaching within RUSD. The district handed out notices based on seniority, a California union labor law that prevents districts to base reduction in force on merit, RUSD Board President Todd Lowell said. Maveety, with a doctorate, taught in the Bay Area for six years where she said she earned a teacher of the year award, spent another six years as a professor training teachers and returned to teaching children — this is her second year with RUSD. Despite her experience, Maveety was one of hundreds of teachers within the district that received a notice. “I knew it could be coming,” she said. Granite Oaks Principal Mike Melton let all teachers who weren’t tenured know that a pink slip may be coming their way, Maveety said. When Maveety told her class she may not be teaching in the district next year, one of her students decided to take action. Without help from Maveety, seventh-grader Emma Towslee gathered 97 signatures within one day to share her views and other students’ views against the decision of layoff notices based on seniority. On top of the petition, Towslee said it read: Layoffs based on merit, not on time. She presented the document to the RUSD board members during a recent meeting. “I really wanted my voice to be heard about it,” she said. “I know there are a lot of great teachers who are young and deserve it.” When Maveety heard of what Towslee had done, she gave her a big hug, Towslee said. “I think what I was most impressed with was she saw something that she felt was wrong and instead of complaining to her friends, she took action,” Maveety said. “It just sends a message to the general public how much of an impact we have on the students.” Maveety said she didn’t express her opinions on the decision to her students and was impressed with Towslee’s confidence to do something. “How intelligent and forward thinking it was to distinguish between someone who deserves to keep a job for hard work over seniority,” Lowell said of Towslee’s effort. “Everyone listens to the kids more than adults,” Maveety said. With the support of her parents, Towslee decided presenting the idea to the school board was a strong idea. “I personally was really excited for her because it’s one of those things kids don’t do enough of – get involved,” Towslee’s father Jason Towslee said. Emma said she wanted to do something for a teacher that helped her enjoy a subject she never connected with, with no push from her teacher. “She makes kids want to learn and it gets kids learning the right way,” Emma said. “She hated to write and now it’s probably one of her favorite subjects,” Jason said. Until May 15, when Maveety will know the status of her position next year, she said she’s maintaining a positive attitude. “I know that if I don’t have a job next year, I know I made the biggest impact,” she said. Contact Lauren Weber at laurenw@goldcountrymedia.com.