Education board sends new school to April ’98 vote
In two separate elections, the voters of Truckee and North Tahoe will be asked by the school district to pay for school facilities in their respective communities.
On April 14, 1998, Truckee voters will be asked to fund a new school to eliminate student crowding that is reaching critical levels.
In North Tahoe, with needs not as dramatic, voters will be asked in June or November to fund modernization and improvements for the lake’s aging schools. The school board is hoping for a June 1998 election, but may choose to wait until November.
At a special meeting of the Tahoe-Truckee Unified School District Board of Trustees on Tuesday, the board members unanimously agreed that the district should be split along the boundaries of the two high schools because the needs in Truckee and Tahoe are different. Placing the two elections on separate ballots will also help to eliminate confusion with how and where the money will be spent.
“Psychologically, it will be good to have them separate,” said Trustee Karen Van Epps.
The school board will decide later how much a general obligation bond should be and what it will be spent upon. However, TTUSD Superintendent Vince Deveney has said the district is considering asking Truckee voters to pass a $25 million bond, which would be $24 for every $100,000 of assessed value.
In North Tahoe, under consideration is a $15 million bond which would be $22 for every $100,000 of assessed value. They would likely be 20-year bonds, he said.
A consultant has reported to the school district that two distinct bonds could pass in today’s voter climate, but that it would be important to separate the areas.
Truckee trustees Debra Darby and Suzanne Prouty said that the critical need for a new school in Truckee is obvious to residents.
“There is absolutely a need for a bond,” Darby said.
Currently, Truckee Elementary School houses 855 students and is at 166 percent of its capacity. While it has installed, 24 relocatable classrooms outside the building, the building’s bathrooms, library, gymnasium, offices, playground and other core facilities were not built to handle that many students, according to the school district.
“We have a school outside of a school,” Deveney said.
The new Glenshire Elementary School is already at 138 percent of capacity with 595 students and 14 relocatable classrooms outside the school.
Reaching a crisis state is Truckee’s Sierra Mountain Middle School, Deveney said. Built to house 400 students, the school is now holding 680 students with little space to offer special classes like the popular music program which includes 227 students, he said.
School district reports say that the Truckee area increased by 618 new students in the last five years. A six-year projection shows that enrollment in grades kindergarten to fifth grade will increase by 500 to 600 new students.
Darby said that a new school needs to be built in Truckee.
Even if a bond passes on April 14, the school district may have to implement year-round school just to meet the student needs until a school can be built.
“It takes about three years to build a school, so we might need to do year-round anyway,” Deveney said.
Growth in North Tahoe is not as great and there is not a need for a new school, Deveney said. Kings Beach Elementary School is the most impacted with 11 relocatable classrooms, he said.
However, the schools in North Tahoe are some of the oldest and need modernization.
At North Tahoe Middle School and North Tahoe High School, 498 and 491 students, respectively, share one gymnasium.
A districtwide needs assessment shows that the school district must soon deal with several unused underground tanks and schools across the district are in urgent need of new roofs and better asphalt, said John Britto, director of maintenance and facilities.
“We’ve identified several million dollars of needs even if we don’t grow another student,” Darby said.
The date for the North Tahoe school bond election is tentatively set for June. However, if the state of California chooses to put a statewide school bond on the June ballot, the TTUSD will move its school bond election to November.
It appears that the state may ask voters to approve a $7 billion to $8 billion bond for new schools in the state. To be able to use the money, individual school districts would be required to pass their own bonds as matching funds, Deveney said. On the June ballot, there may also be a question asking voters to allow school bonds to pass by less than the super majority (66 percent) required now.
Trustee Nancy O’Neill warned the board that April and June elections will require a citizens committee to begin the campaign now. However, Prouty pointed out that a new school is a well known need in Truckee.
“I think we can get through next year OK, but the faster the relief, the better,” Deveney said.
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