North Tahoe jazz band could struggle with sustainability | SierraSun.com

North Tahoe jazz band could struggle with sustainability

Jason Shueh
Sierra Sun

TAHOE CITY, Calif. and#8212; It was hard to let the North Tahoe High School jazz band go and#8212; now it appears itand#8217;s going to be just as hard to bring it back as officials try to balance volunteer support and district funding.

During last monthand#8217;s board meeting, Tahoe Truckee Unified School District trustees voted to accept $7,000 from the North Tahoe Fan Club to reinstate the band and#8212; which had been axed because of budget cuts and#8212; as an accredited course for this school year, adding that a long-term solution must be devised.

At the meeting, Steve Jennings, TTUSD superintendent, proposed three funding scenarios that would allow students to receive credit for the course this year.

The first option is to pay Dean Nordby, the instructor, overtime pay at an hourly rate of $40, instead of adding the class into his normal salary. Jennings said this would allow the fan cluband#8217;s $7,000 to pay for the entire year; however, he also said the option requires agreement with the Tahoe Truckee Education Association, the local teachersand#8217; union.

Jenningsand#8217; second option would allow the fan club to raise the remaining $7,000 to pay Nordbyand#8217;s salary for the full year; his third option is to accept the $7,000 and let the district cover the rest.

Mike Merriman, TTEA president, said he is concerned the district discussed the proposals without first consulting the union.

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and#8220;They wanted to negotiate in public … and we canand#8217;t work that way,and#8221; Merriman said.

When asked if any of the proposals held potential for an agreement, Merriman said he could not comment, although he said the union hopes an agreement can be reached where Nordby could keep his old salary and#8212; instead of the lower overtime pay and#8212; and the district could fund most or all of the class.

Cautioning against district aid, Jennings said such options might set an unintended precedence.

and#8220;If the district provides extra funding for the NTHS jazz band, other groups could certainly come forward to lobby for their special interest.and#8221; Jennings said.

Cutbacks this year forced North Tahoe and Truckee high schools and Alder Creek Middle School to tighten their academic schedules; as a result, each school and#8220;… Needed to make difficult decisions and were not able to offer everything they had previously,and#8221; Jennings said.

If extra funding is given to NTHS, Jennings said other schools would have an equal right to petition for special funding.

and#8220;The board would love to meet everyoneand#8217;s desires but that isnand#8217;t possible in the current economy,and#8221; he said.

Jennings also compared NTHS with Truckee High School, saying the only reason Truckee can afford to have a before-school jazz band is because the school is larger in size and can accommodate student schedules and#8212; something NTHS canand#8217;t do with current staffing.