Higher Tahoe-Truckee enrollment equals more teachers | SierraSun.com

Higher Tahoe-Truckee enrollment equals more teachers

Margaret Moran

Kathy Muonio teachers her 24-student first grade class recently at Kings Beach Elementary. The school met the state's 800-point benchmark in 2013 for API.

TRUCKEE, Calif. — Preliminary figures indicate Tahoe Truckee Unified School District enrollment is up for the second straight year, leading to the hiring of more teachers.

Numbers show 3,767 students attending school within the district, compared to 3,756 last year at the beginning of October, an 11-student increase.

If the district's independent charter campus, Sierra Expeditionary Learning School, is included, 2013-14 enrollment is 3,977, said TTUSD Superintendent Rob Leri.

To accommodate this growth, the district has added 12 new full-time positions, while replacing 13.5 positions — formerly held by either retirees or departed teachers — with new educators, he said.

"Yay, new teachers. Yay, new blood," said Yvonne Logan, a transitional kindergarten teacher at Kings Beach Elementary. "Bringing in more people into the community, it benefits them and it benefits the students."

Adding teachers has allowed the district to maintain smaller class sizes for the 2013-14 school year. Logan went from having 26 students last year to 22 this year.

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"Socially and emotionally for the kids, it's a benefit because it's not such a shock for them," she said. "Educationally, it's a benefit because I can give more one-on-one attention to each student."

Class size caps are: 24-to-1 for Kindergarten through third grade, 28-to-1 for fourth and fifth grade, and 30-to-1 for sixth through 12th grade, Leri said.

"While I am encouraged by the growth of the district, I do have to monitor the impact on our funding as a basic aid district compared to enrollment growth," he said. "Unlike 90 percent of the other school districts in the state, growth for us does not include additional funding per student."

A basic aid school district is one that relies more on property tax revenue than state funding.

Improvement in the economy, Leri said, has helped increase the district's property tax revenue the past two years.

Schools are reporting new students are members of families new to the area, he added, while others are returning to the district from other public or private schools.

"It just makes me feel better in terms of the job market, the housing market," Logan said. "Families moving into the area … that just helps everyone in the community."

According to preliminary numbers, these schools have seen an enrollment increase: Truckee High with 34 new students, North Tahoe High (31), Glenshire Elementary (26), Kings Beach Elementary (23), North Tahoe Elementary (5) and Donner Trail Elementary (2).

Among Kings Beach, Glenshire and Tahoe Lake, kindergarten has increased by 45 students, a trend Leri said he is pleased to see. At the same time, the district has retained its former kindergartners into first grade.

"This is a positive sign for the health of the enrollment of the school district and an indication that our decline has hopefully come to an end," Leri said.

While Leri is encouraged by the small increase, the district has a long way to go to return to enrollment levels of nearly a decade ago.

According to TTUSD, enrollment has decreased by 1,803 from its record high of 5,570 in 2001-02. One reason for that decline — a trend experienced by many districts in the state — is due in part to the recession.

Official California public school enrollment figures will be collected next week.

By the numbers

3,756 – 2012-13 district enrollment

3,731 – 2011-12

3,845 – 2010-11

3,949 – 2009-10

4,114 – 2008-09

4,090 – 2007-08

4,108 – 2006-07

4,304 – 2005-06

4,503 – 2004-05

4,589 – 2003-04

5,342 – 2002-03

5,570 – 2001-02

5,094 – 2000-01

5,367 -1999-00

*Source: Tahoe Truckee Unified School District.

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