Parcel tax committee approves district use of carryover funds | SierraSun.com

Parcel tax committee approves district use of carryover funds

Renee Shadforth
Sierra Sun

In an effort to avoid draconian cuts in the 2005-06 school year, the Measure A citizens review committee will allow the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District to use roughly $500,000 toward the district’s general fund reserve next year.

For the 2004-05 school year, the district reduced its general fund reserve from 3 to 1.5 percent to avoid more cuts. In 2005-06, the district will be required by the state to reinstate a 3 percent reserve in case of economic uncertainty.

“The money is staying on (Measure A’s) books where it is,” said Bev Ducey, member of the Measure A citizens review committee. “That money would be sitting there no matter what… Without it, we would need to cut things that affect students directly.”

If the plan is approved by the Placer County Office of Education, the money would remain in the Measure A reserve and would only be used to count toward the district’s 3 percent reserve on paper, said Ducey.

In 2006-07, the district would take on its own reserve, said Dennis Williams, district superintendent.

The school district has reduced more than $3 million of its $33 million budget in the past two years. The district’s budget faces another year of cuts until it gets an anticipated boost from local property taxes ” called basic aid funding ” in 2006-07, according to district administrators.

The only community-supported reductions that haven’t been cut include closing or combining smaller school sites and firing staff at the district level, according to a budget review committee survey.

“(The transfer) allows the district to not make the more draconian cuts that would impact teachers and students. Because $500,000 in cuts ” that’s a lot of salaries,” said Roger Kahn, who sits on the district’s budget review committee. “If the district can’t use the money, lives will be affected.”

Traditionally, the Measure A citizens review committee under-spends on programs in the first years of the cycle, and then ” accounting for an approximate 5 percent increase in teacher salary and benefits ” spends more in the final years of the cycle. Currently, Measure A has more than $600,000 in its reserve.

This isn’t the first time the school district has used Measure A reserve funds to count toward its general fund reserve.

In 1996, the district used $339,000 in parcel tax carryover dollars toward its general fund reserve. At the time, current school board member Monty Folsom ” who was the district’s business manager at the time ” said he was “reasonably confident” that the district would be able to return the dollars to the measure’s carryover account, according to a June 6, 1996 Sierra Sun article.

This time, district administrators have told the Measure A citizens review committee that the paper transfer will only occur for one year, said Superintendent Williams.

In 1996, there was some community uproar that voter-approved parcel tax funds were being used to bail out the school district, said Kahn, who was on the citizens review committee for the measure at the time.

“The difference then was that (district administrators) simply just did it; they didn’t ask the citizens review committee,” Kahn said. “In reality, there’s nothing different between then and now. The difference is there’s a lot of communication going on now.”