Budget cuts, later start time drive teacher departures

Ronnie Estoque, Staff reporter

Last year, Cleveland saw a high rate of teacher turnover due to the humanities department redesigning their requirements to be able to teach the subject. But this year, staff members are leaving for a variety of reasons. Senior humanities teacher Jeffrey Eisenbrey, biology teacher Greg Kowalke, geometry teacher Bronwyn Starostka, and Spanish teacher Javier Roman will not return to Cleveland in the fall.

Kowalke is finishing up his second year at Cleveland and is the one teacher being displaced due to budget cuts. Since Kowalke is the newest hire, he was first on the chopping block. His leaving means the science department will have to cut back on elective classes.

“As for Cleveland, I am upset with one less teacher,” Kowalke said. “It makes it difficult to offer all the science classes that we want to have as a STEM school.”

The science department is at risk for losing electives such as oceanography and environmental science.

Though he will be leaving, he has enjoyed his time teaching at Cleveland.

“It’s exactly what I want from a high school,” Kowalke said

Finishing up her fourth year at Cleveland, Staroska chose to leave due to the later start times for Seattle high schools next year.

“With Seattle Public Schools pushing the start time an hour next year, it’s going to be putting me on the road for far longer than I can afford,” Staroska said.

Staroska will be teaching at Eastside Catholic next year, which is a closer commute from her Kenmore neighborhood. She has loved her time at Cleveland.

“I wouldn’t trade it for the world,” Staroska said. “I love, most importantly, the kids.”

In his first year of being a Spanish teacher at CHS, Roman has openly expressed his appreciation for the community.

“The students are tremendous,” he said.

Currently, Roman’s position is up in the air and is dependent on the scheduling and administrative decisions from SPS. He has over 15 years of teaching experience, which includes time being a chaplain in the military.

There is a shortage of world language teachers across the district, so Roman’s departure could be difficult to fill.

Eisenbrey has been teaching for 23 years and is finishing his third year at CHS. He has expressed his frustration at the writing ability of his senior students, but admits they have improved since the beginning of the year. His morning class, which contains 35 students, has been overwhelming for him.

“Overall, they’ve come a really long way, but it hasn’t been fun,” Eisenbrey said.

He plans on leaving teaching and is hoping to run for the council member position in his neighborhood in Shoreline. He is also seeking to invest more time writing books and poetry.