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Drastic cuts envisioned if tax proposal fails

Tanya Branson

If the school parcel tax fails March 4, the impact will be swift and dramatic.

“In the 1997-98 school year, we would start to see the negative aspects,” said Bobbie Specht, a parent of a Tahoe-Truckee High School freshman.

Specht remembers what school was like for her older sons without Measure S and she doesn’t want to see those days return for her son, Carson.

Probable changes

Rideout Elementary School Principal Jo Wilson said if Measure S does not pass, the school day will change for the school’s fourth- and fifth-graders.

Music, art and physical education will be taught by the children’s regular teachers, who will most likely lose their 35 minute preparatory period each day. There will no longer be a computer aide. Supplies will dwindle and things that have been taken for granted – colored pens, use of the copy machine – will not be readily available, Wilson said. Library books and audiovisual equipment and films will not be replenished, she said.

“Those specific things will disappear,” Wilson said.

At the district level, TTUSD Superintendent Vince Deveney has been preparing for the change if Measure S fails. In a letter to John Reinking, the superintendent of the Placer County Office of Education, Deveney outlined what would happen if the school district lost the $1.6 million Measure S has annually generated the past eight school years.

With oversight responsibility of all the school districts in the county, Reinking wanted to know how the TTUSD would deal with a significant chunk of its budget gone.

Course of action

Deveney said the following 14 actions would be taken if Measure S fails:

1. Cut supplies and aides at school sites.

While the school district funds many teacher aides through its regular budget, there are about 12 aides funded through Measure S, Deveney said. Those positions would be gone. Measure S also gives an allocation for each student’s school supplies, including paper items as well as instructional materials. This would no longer beavailable.

2. Reduce extra periods at the high school and intermediate schools.

Beside the regular six periods that students attend, students have the option of taking additional courses either before school or after school. Some of these courses include French at North Tahoe Middle School, Jazz Band at Sierra Mountain Middle School, and advanced placement courses at the

high school.

3. Cut mobile science teacher.

Without the teacher, the FOSS science program would not be taught in the elementary schools, Deveney said.

4. Reduce 2.4 computer teachers and 2.2 computer aides.

Every computer position would be cut and computer labs would be left unused unless a teacher is proficient in the computers.

“If a teacher isn’t computer literate, there would be limited opportunity for those students,” Deveney said.

5. Reduce two librarians at the high school.

Deveney said the libraries would be closed at North Tahoe and Truckee high schools because no one would be able to track the students’ use of the materials.

6. Cut library books.

7. Cut audio visual supplies.

8. Reduce music staff by 5.5 teachers.

Music would only be taught at the two high schools, Deveney said. There would be no music program at the elementary and middle schools throughout the district.

9. Reduce one nurse.

There would be only one nurse to serve 5,000 students in the district and conduct the myriad projects the two nurses currently handle, said TTUSD nurse Lisa Abraham. Nurses provide individual student assessments for special education students, testing of all students for vision, hearing and scoliosis and inservice to teachers on current social health topics, among other duties.

10. Reduce 2.9 physical education teachers.

This would eliminate physical education for students in the elementary schools, Deveney said.

11. Cut 5.5 elementary counselors and all elementary counseling aides.

This would eliminate elementary school counseling and the Special Friends programs at all elementary schools.

12. Cut equipment.

There would not be any more purchases of equipment relating to the programs being cut, such as music, physical education, etc.

13. Cut art programs.

This includes the art docent program, art supplies and some special programs such as egg painting workshops and the art program at Sierra High School.

14. Reduce playground maintenance.

When Measure S was first passed, all the school’s playgrounds were overhauled because they had deteriorated into unsafe conditions, according to Peterson.

Overall, the school district by law cannot randomly cut a certificated teacher’s position, unless there is declining enrollment or the loss of a program. Deveney said so programs paid for with Measure S money must be cut at an entire level, such as either the elementary level or the high school level.

Currently, the school district is conducting a careful review of the teachers affected to determine their hiring dates and their seniority positions. The district is also looking at each teacher’s credentials to determine what subjects they can teach, Deveney said.

“We’re projected some growth and the need for some more teachers,” he said.

So, the Measure S-funded teachers will move into positions created from high school growth or class size reductions, he said.

“They’ll just be doing something different,” Deveney said.

Tahoe Lake School Principal Judi Bagby said parents place different values on the Measure S programs.

“Typically what we get is a parents’ value system. Some value visual arts, some value computers. It really depends on our own set of experiences,” Bagby said.

Kings Beach parent Sue Kyler said students need to be familiar with computers.

“I don’t know what kids would do without a computer background. All jobs have computers now,” said Kyler, whose son, Matt, is a sophomore at North Tahoe High School and whose daughter, Katie, is an eighth grader at North Tahoe Middle School.

Debby Spohr has a daughter, Annie, who is a freshman at NTHS and a daughter, Laura, who is a seventh grader at NTMS.

“The thing that stands out the most is that the high school has a librarian. My kids are readers and that has made a huge difference,” said Spohr.

If Measure S fails, the loss of a library would be devastating to her family. But the lack of Measure S funded programs and teachers would impact every student in the district, she said.

“I feel like I have 5,038 reasons to vote for Measure S,” Spohr said.


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