Tahoe/Truckee school district aims to balance budget without layoffs, fee hikes | SierraSun.com

Tahoe/Truckee school district aims to balance budget without layoffs, fee hikes

Margaret Moran

TRUCKEE, Calif. – For the first time in four years, the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District is not considering making staff cuts to address pending budget shortfalls.

“We are optimistic that the economy will recover, and we can balance budgetary decisions in the best interest of our students and educational program without the disruption to students and staff that had been the norm in previous years,” said Superintendent Rob Leri in a recent email to the Sun.

Increased tax revenue from the adoption of California Proposition 30, along with Gov. Jerry Brown’s state budget proposal, reversed a $1.6 million anticipated cut to TTUSD’s budget, Leri said, reducing the shortfall for the 2013-14 school year from $3 million to $1.4 million.

To address the deficit, TTUSD has adopted a three-year strategy of expenditure reductions, Leri said. For the 2013-14 school year, a $525,000 reduction is proposed, along with a $500,000 reduction and $400,000 reduction for the 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years, respectively.

Further, in order to balance the budget for next school year, TTUSD is recommending the following:

• Looking into alternatives and program revisions to decrease special education and special education transportation costs.

• Looking at options of engaging the district’s booster and other support organizations for athletics funding without cutting programs.

• Looking at options to decrease food service encroachment.

• Consolidating legal services from multiple law firms to one or two firms.

• Providing financial incentive for those eligible to retire, while replacing retiring staff.

• Reducing child development cost through additional community-wide funding.

• Reducing supply funds for each district-level department.

• Continuing efforts to cut down on energy consumption.

The TTUSD board of trustees discussed these items at its Jan. 23 meeting, and a resolution to approve final versions of them is expected to be voted on at the March 6 meeting, Leri said.

Also in Jan. 23, the school board did not approve other cost-saving measures proposed earlier this year, including increasing meals costs and busing fees.

“Transportation is a key component of education,” Leri said in press release. “Getting our scholars to class and safely home is a priority for the district, and we don’t want to impose any barriers for families.”

As of Jan. 30, a survey on the district’s website indicated that 66 percent of 73 responders were against a transportation fee hike, and 60 percent of 75 responders were against a meal price increase.

“In consideration of these recommendations, I don’t want to raise prices by any means,” said TTUSD board trustee Gaylan Larson, according to a press release. “I think we need a clearer picture of how big the food services encroachment will actually be and to consider other ways to cut costs before we raise prices.”

The only recommendation the school board approved at its last meeting was to promote marketing and other options to increase food service participation.

The school board must adopt a 2013-14 budget on or before July 1, 2013.

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