This may not be the year after all for one California Teacher of the Year. Sixth-grade teacher Michelle Apperson received the Sacramento City Unified School District award, only weeks after getting a pink slip.
“It hurt to receive the slip,” Apperson told ABC News, “but I’m grateful to see they do honor hardworking, dedicated professionals.”
The Sutterville Elementary School teacher is one of the latest teachers on the verge of losing her job because of California budget cuts.
“I hate to see any teacher lose their job,” parent Kim Ochoa told ABC affiliate KXTV. “But when you have teachers who are also winning awards like Ms. Apperson, they shouldn’t be cut.”
District spokesman explained to KXTV that the notifications were based on seniority not performance, and mandated by the state.
“It’s another sign of how education’s funding really needs an overhaul,” district spokesperson Gabe Ross told ABC affiliate KXTV.
This year, $43 million in cuts were made by the district and over $100 million in the last four years. The state of California is $16 billion in debt.
“It’s our children and the people who spend time with our children who are suffering,” Ochoa told KXTV.
The Teacher of the Year recognizes the tight budget, but says this is a reminder of the importance of education.
“It’s about the kids,” Apperson said. “We have to protect their educations and make it the priority because they are the future.”
Apperson has received a pink slip eight of the nine years she has been with the school district, but returned each fall. She hopes this year is the same.
“I’m just staying positive. It’s a lose-lose situation, but we are doing the best we can with what we have to deal with,” Apperson explained. “I hope to be back with the kids in the fall.”
Apperson and the other teachers will be notified about their jobs later this summer.