School cuts address projected $1.8 million shortfall: Summer transportation, special ed. staffing on chopping block |

School cuts address projected $1.8 million shortfall: Summer transportation, special ed. staffing on chopping block

After months of discussion, students, teachers and school district staff finally know exactly what can be cut from the schools budget next year.

The Tahoe Truckee Unified School District chose the items to fill the estimated $1.8 million hole in its 2003-2004 budget created primarily by the upcoming state budget cuts.

The list of reductions – which the school board approved last Wednesday, giving staff the power to cut specific items to balance next year’s budget – advises cutting items like summer school transportation, holding the district’s required reserve at the 3 percent minimum and staffing reductions in special education, if necessary.

District administrators compiled the list, along with input from a committee of district employees, parents, students and community members.

The items the district decided they can cut were not easy to choose, district business manager Ralph Johnson said. Also, he said, there was no way to make everyone happy.

“Early on I said people are going to forget the crisis, but they won’t forget how we handled the crisis,” Johnson said. “We’re trying to be as fiscally responsible as possible while being as humane as possible.”

Because of hiring and spending freezes invoked in January, Johnson said, the district has saved up to $1.5 million on 2002-2003 budget expenditures. The savings may have prevented the district from having to make the draconian cuts many school districts in California have had to make.

However, if the state’s budget crisis continues beyond the 2003-2004 school year, Johnson pointed out, the money salvaged from this year’s freeze is only a one-time savings.

Johnson said he would know more specifics on how to budget after the governor’s May Revise on May 14, after the Sierra Sun’s press deadline.

The superintendent’s budget review committee came up with several money-makers for next year’s budget, like increasing rental fees for use of district facilities, which Johnson projected could bring in $10,000.

The district also looked at ways to cut back on transportation, which is one of the district’s biggest expenditures at more than $1 million per year. In order to save funds, the district might eliminate summer school busing and bring in points of service during the regular school year, which might save the district $164,000.

The district must adopt a budget for review by the Placer County Office of Education by June 30.

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