TUHSD to reduce district-wide teaching positions due to declining student enrollment


Aler Giffin

An illustration depicts the slip given to teachers when they are released from their positions.

Due to a decrease in student enrollment, reductions to teaching positions in the Tamalpais Unified High School District (TUHSD) will occur over the next five years. Across TUHSD, members of school faculty, including counselors, will be laid off or possibly moved within the district’s locations. In total, nine teachers will be affected by the reductions this year, depending on their department and seniority.

TUHSD aims to resolve the issue and make affected teachers aware ahead of time, giving staff members the opportunity to plan ahead for the 2023-2024 school year.

“Over the next eight years, TUHSD’s enrollment will decline by nearly 1,100 students,” said Wesley Cedros, the Assistant Superintendent at TUHSD Human Resources. 

Cedros said that with a decrease in students, the need for staff members will decline as well. TUHSD sent out a district-wide email with the estimated reductions for staff in FTE (full time equivalent). According to Cedros, a 1.0 FTE represents a staff member that works full time, teaching five periods, and has two periods for preparation, and 0.2 or 0.6 FTE would indicate 20 or 60 percent of full time.

“Next year’s expected district-wide reductions are 5.2 FTE in Social Studies, 2.2 in Math, 1.6 in English, and 0.2 in Counseling,” was stated in the email.  

Staff members who are voluntarily leaving for other reasons can reduce the required FTE, but only if they work in a department affected by the reductions.

“If the district needs to reduce by 2.0 FTE in Social Studies, but only English and Math teachers retire or resign, then we still need to lay off the equivalent of two full-time Social Studies teachers,” Cedros said. On the other hand, if four Social Studies teachers were to retire or resign, then the district would need to hire two more teachers in that area. 

TUHSD uses a system of seniority to make decisions regarding staff layoffs. According to Cedros, in instances where multiple staff members have the same seniority date there is a tie breaker criteria that can be applied, where points are tallied for each staff member based on different certifications that they have. However, if that fails the union president simply picks a name out of a hat.

“If you were the last person to get hired, you would be the first teacher to get laid off,” said Archie Williams Algebra and AP Statistics teacher Karen Gladysz, who has worked at Archie Williams for six years.  

A lower student population will reduce the number of teaching positions needed, but a lower student-to-teacher ratio could be beneficial to students’ learning according to Gladysz. 

“[The district] should be sensitive to the fact that we really do need classes that aren’t too large so everybody can get the full benefit of the class,” Gladysz said.

Gladysz feels that when classrooms are full, students aren’t necessarily able to get the support they need from their teacher. She finds it difficult to provide independent attention for every student in large classes. 

“Algebra one is a class that has diverse learners… you have to be able to attend to every person, and it’s hard when the class sizes get to 33,” Gladysz said.

Reductions will continue to occur over the next five or more years as school populations continue to decrease. Those who are laid off can expect to be notified by May 15, after the decisions have been approved by the TUHSD Board.