District’s transportation facility moves along: Lack of funding downsized the original plan to include more district departments | SierraSun.com

District’s transportation facility moves along: Lack of funding downsized the original plan to include more district departments

Rene Shadforth

All Tahoe Truckee Unified School District buses will soon have a home, although not all of them will have a roof over their heads.The size of the district’s transportation, maintenance and operations facility has sized down considerably since the birth of the concept in 2001 – for now, the 32,000 square-foot, $6 million facility will house a few buses in garages and the others outside. In the original plan, the building was supposed to include maintenance, district offices and additional bus garages by fall 2003.”We didn’t have the funding at this point (to complete the bays and maintenance and operations portions),” said Anna Klovstad, the project manager for the facility. “We’ll probably complete this project in two to three more phases.”Klovstad estimated it would cost $2.5 million to complete the second phase of the project, which will include the bus garages and 11 additional bays. It brings the total proposed cost of the project thus far to less than $8.5 million, not counting the cost of the remaining phases of the facility.In 2001, the school board approved $9.5 million to fund the entire transportation, maintenance and operations facility project.The first phase of the facility, which Klovstad expects contractors Clark & Sullivan will have completed by mid-August, has been funded solely through developer fees. The remaining phases will be completed once the district has realized sufficient fees from development in the district’s boundaries, Klovstad said.Another possible form of financing the district has used in the past – passing a bond measure – doesn’t tend to be popular with the community in constructing administrative facilities, Klovstad said.”We didn’t feel the taxpayers should have to take on that burden,” she said.The district’s buses are currently stored near the administrative offices in Truckee and at North Tahoe High School on the Lake Tahoe side of the district. All district buses will be stationed at the new facility.”It’s a fresh start. It’s a good start for a new school year,” said Director of Transportation Tom Miller.The building, which is located on a 25-acre parcel on Joerger Drive by Truckee Tahoe Airport, will have plenty of space to expand for the remaining phases.”This is a pretty large facility, especially for our district,” Klovstad said, adding that she’s received a lot of scrutiny about the size of the project. “The facility they’re at right now (in Truckee) was built for the size of the district in the ’50s. We’ve built four school sites since then. We’re trying to plan for the future of our district.”The public has also challenged the district for using the money to construct more facilities when Tahoe Truckee Unified is in the midst of a budget crunch and declining enrollment.”The project is paid for by developer fees. By law we can’t use developer fees to pay for teachers’ salaries and to run the district. Those are paid for by the general fund,” Klovstad said. “This is money we are using to improve our school district.”