District budget cuts could open doors for students to transfer | SierraSun.com

District budget cuts could open doors for students to transfer

Kyle Magin
Sierra Sun

TRUCKEE/TAHOE ” Some vehicles can’t cross the state line at Brockway ” generally, sheriff’s SUVs and school buses bearing “Washoe County” stay in Nevada, while their counterparts stay in Placer County.

But that doesn’t stop students from hopping in mom and dad’s vehicle and making that trip, traveling from the Silver State to the Golden State in search of an education, and vice versa.

In local public education terms these swaps are called “variances,” the process by which a student from the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District can attend Incline’s Washoe County school’s on California’s dime. The same is true in reverse, as about 11 Incline students attend Kings Beach Elementary for the school’s Spanish two-way immersion program.

Rick Harris, the Deputy Superintendent of Washoe County schools, said that in light of the financial struggles at Tahoe Truckee Unified School District, the variance program can help to stem the tide of dropping enrollment at Incline, which has seen a 500 student drop in the last decade.

“We’re hoping for a big year,” Harris said. “We think we’re a little better off than they are right now.”

The neighboring district is facing a $4 million budget shortfall for the oncoming school year, and has had to lay off teachers and reconfigure many of the schools on the Lake Tahoe side of the district. A number of parents have voiced their displeasure at school board meetings and have openly discussed sending their children elsewhere for an education.

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Superintendent Steve Jennings of Tahoe Truckee Unified School District said he didn’t see variances subtracting a significant amount of students from the school district.

“It’s been kind of a wash every year. People move back and forth for a variety of reasons,” Jennings said. “It’s just another education alternative.”

Along with each student who enrolls from another state comes a $6,896 payout from their home district to cover their tuition in Washoe and Placer counties.

The Incline Reflective Schools Task Force ” which was charged with investigating ways to combat decreasing enrollment ” spoke at length in its Thursday, April 23, meeting about the positive effect of variances from other districts, especially if a proposal to establish Incline as an International Baccalaureate school were to go through.

Jeni Cross, a French Teacher at Incline High School and a Task Force member said she’d already fielded a call from a Tahoe Truckee parent who was interested in learning about variances so her children could attend Incline’s schools.

Variances are available to any student in either district, given they maintain a few basic stipulations.

Students in Washoe County are only accepted from neighboring counties, meaning students from Tahoe-Truckee and Carson City may receive variances. Students from Douglas County, however, are prohibited, since the two counties are separated by a thin strip of Carson City.

According to JoDee Hub, registrar at Incline Middle School, students are required to maintain a 2.0 grade point average, cannot be suspended and must achieve a better-than-failing mark in citizenship. Students are not allowed unexcused absences and must maintain good behavior.

Those standards also apply at the high school and elementary school, and principals are given the right to return a problem student to his or her home district.

Currently, most of the variances at Incline ” about 18 when all three schools are factored together ” come from Tahoe Truckee. Variances are also granted within a district, meaning students from Galena may attend Incline and vice-versa, said Incline Elementary Principal Kathleen Watty.

Students must re-apply for a variance each year. The deadline to apply for a variance extends until August, though principals may grant extensions up until a school’s count day in the early autumn.

Minimum GPA a student must maintain to keep a variance: 2.0

Tuition paid by the Tahoe Truckee School District for a student attending Washoe County and vice versa: $6,896