Jeff Breuklander: Screen, Shequan! Here it comes!
Jessica: As a high school basketball coach…
Jeff: Guard him, guard him!
Jessica: Jeff Breuklander teaches his players to never give up.
Jeff: Go to work! Go to work!
Jessica: But he is now finding it hard to follow his own advice; he lost his job in May.
Jeff: It’s based on seniority when you were hired. I had eight years in this district. I thought that would be enough.
Jessica: Jeff was the phys-ed teacher at Millikin High School in Long Beach, California. He was let go when 800 jobs were cut in his school district.
Jeff: It’s a really bad time for us. We’re trying to stay positive and hope that something is going to work out for us.”
Jessica: His wife Tiffany, also a teacher, is now bringing home the family’s only paycheck.
Tiffany: The mortgage, the house bills, the food bills, the day care. There’s no way we can survive, live the lifestyle we’re living now with just my income.
Jessica: Back in 2009, the government gave states $97 billion to save an estimated 325,000 school jobs. It was part of a federal stimulus package, government money used to help stimulate and jumpstart the struggling economy. A temporary fix.
Jeff: But that money is now gone and schools have cut 200,000 jobs nationwide. Gym, art, and music teachers are often the first to go.
Jessica: Music teacher Gene Amato was laid off after twenty years in New Jersey schools. He lost his job 14 months ago.
Gene Amato: I never thought I would be in a position to be 50-plus years old and no job. I have a Masters in music and have some experience and, all of a sudden, you’re kind of thrown on your back.
Jessica: Yet with all the cuts, some school districts find themselves short on teachers just as the school year starts. Less than two weeks ago, Gene got a phone call.
Gene: They asked me if I wanted my job back and I said, ‘Now, wait a minute. Let me think about it for a second. Yes. Yes, I do!
Jessica: Jeff Breuklander is still waiting for a callback.
Jeff: I’ve just got to keep my fingers crossed and hope the phone rings.
Jessica: Until then, he will coach basketball and hope for a shot as a substitute teacher.
Some communities have made up for these cuts with private donations and by earning money through fundraisers and even bake sales. Still, even with the additional money, many schools are being forced to make tough decisions.
Back to you, Shelby.