Creating a RIF(t) in the district

Rachel Matteson, News Editor

In a time of uncertainty as teachers try to work through their new normal, the Issaquah School District has issued a RIF. The RIF, which stands for reduction in force, was announced at the school board meeting on April 14. This will lay-off 250 teachers district-wide. 

To determine which staff members are cut, teachers were all ranked based on their seniority, which is essentially how long they have been teaching for. This has left the teachers cut with a lot of varying feelings. 

“Well, no one wants to hear they’re out of a job. Right now, I’m just really disappointed,” English teacher Tamara McManaman said. “I have loved my first year at Liberty and was settling in for a long and happy career here. Every district goes through teacher layoffs at some point. Unfortunately for me, it’s ISD’s turn.”

While some are disappointed with the RIF, others are frustrated. 

“I first worked six long years to complete the education needed to become a teacher, preparing to enter the classroom. Then, I worked with ISD for the last three years trying to hone my craft,” teacher Ellen Ross* said. “While I know that the RIF doesn’t have anything to do with my ability as a teacher, it does, to some extent, feel like the work I have put in isn’t appreciatedlike I’m easily discarded or expendable for the sake of the bottom line.”

There is a possibility for some, though not all, teachers to be rehired in the fall. Once the district receives their budget from the state, they can decide which and how many teachers to bring back. But because there is no guarantee of being rehired, teachers are looking to the future.

“Everything will work out somehow. I have to trust that there will be a job for me, somewhere, come September. I’m the kind of person who strives to find something positive in every situation and is a champion at finding the silver lining,” McMananan said. 

Although some teachers are currently not searching for new employment yet, others are taking action now. 

“My mindset for the future is to do what is right for my family. Being part of the RIF has forced me to look for jobs elsewhere as backup in case I am not given a contract for next year,” Ross said. 

Though the future is uncertain, these teachers are still happy to have been at Liberty and have found comfort and help amongst their peers.

“I know that I can lean on my colleagues to understand how I am feeling. I have had many encouraging conversations with others, and I know I am supported by other teachers at Liberty during this difficult time,” Ross said. “And while the outcome may not be what I want it to be, I know that my time at Liberty has been transformative.”


*For the sake of confidentiality, some names have been changed.