Local school district avoids teacher layoffs | SierraSun.com

Local school district avoids teacher layoffs

Andrew Cristancho
Sierra Sun

While thousands of teachers statewide were served layoff notices earlier this month, many Tahoe-Truckee teachers are temporarily safe from the state’s budgetary woes.

Approximately 14,000 California teachers and 10,000 non-teaching staff received layoff notices by the cutoff date of March 15, according to California Department of Education spokeswoman Loannis Kazanis.

The statewide staff cuts are largely attributed to Governor Schwarzenegger’s budget proposals that call for a 10 percent, across-the-board spending reduction to cope with the projected deficit in the 2008-09 fiscal year. That includes a $4.3 billion reduction in K-12 education spending.

But in the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District, the good news is no “Reduction in Force” notices were sent out to probationary or permanent teachers, according to Interim Superintendent Jo Lynn Wilson.

However, temporary positions filled by 40 people will be released, she said. That’s part of the standard, year-to-year hiring procedure the district uses to cover for permanent or probationary teachers on leave, or who are on a district assignment that may keep them out of a regular classroom, Wilson said.

The temporary teachers that may be released from their contracts sometime in late April are not part of the fallout of any budget proposals at the state level, but simply part of how California Education Code allows districts to manage their labor pools, Wilson said.

Part of the reason why the more secure positions were not eliminated this year is linked to the district’s budgetary status as a basic aid district, which means a district receives more funding from property taxes than from the state.

The district’s funding will still be impacted if the Governor’s proposals are approved because it is the recipient of state and federal money, which may be reduced, Wilson said.

Meanwhile, Wilson explained that basic aid funding does not entirely insulate the district from potential year-to-year layoffs and some of the temporary positions may not be hired back next year.

Although the news of no layoffs is most likely welcome to teachers, union members are quick to point out that the teachers within the district are on the bottom of the state’s basic aid pay scale. That, accompanied by the fact that some cannot afford to live in the area because of high property values, is leading the teacher’s union to negotiate for a raise this year, said Tahoe Truckee Education Association President Jim Driscoll.

“Our main contention is they’ve got this money, they are in a highly desirable financial situation,” Driscoll said.

But district officials remain steadfast that budgetary caution should be exercised.

Wilson said that the district is also struggling with an unforeseen obligation of $1.2 million due to the Nevada County Board of Education to paid this year.

Meanwhile at the meeting, Bev Ducey worried that increasing fuel costs, the “step and column” staff salary increase and the cut in state revenues proposed by the governor’s office could see the district breaking even regardless of property tax revenues.