School district alters proposals to avoid closing schools | SierraSun.com

School district alters proposals to avoid closing schools

Kyle Magin
Sierra Sun

TRUCKEE/TAHOE “-North Tahoe Middle School will stay open next year under two new proposals presented to the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District board of trustees Tuesday night.

The school district is looking to trim nearly $4 million from its budget due to funding shortfalls and a decrease in area property taxes.

A crowd of about 160 heard the latest news Tuesday night at Truckee High School.

Under the proposed configurations, North Tahoe Middle School, which serves sixth- through eight-graders, would become either a 5-8 or 4-8 school, as opposed to shutting its doors as was originally proposed.

“I breathe a huge sigh of relief when I look at these scenarios and we’re not bringing the middle school over to Truckee,” said board member Lisa Mohun.

Superintendent Steve Jennings said the new configurations were presented partially in response to the community’s negative response to closing neighborhood schools and an unfavorable view of students taking long bus rides to school ” especially those who live on the West Shore making the near-hour commute to Truckee for middle school.

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He said they arrived at the new configurations hrough the consideration of education benefits, community input and financial savings.

The school board could vote as early as tonight on the measure, at a 5 p.m. meeting at North Tahoe High School.

Also on the agenda is an action item for the board to rescind the proposed number of teacher layoffs from 73 to “somewhere in the 50s,” Jennings said.

The first configuration would establish Tahoe Lake Elementary in Tahoe City as a school for kindergarten and first-graders.

Students would then attend Kings Beach Elementary for second through fourth grades. Both schools would include the two-way immersion program used now only at Kings Beach.

North Tahoe Middle School would expand to accommodate grades five through eight, instead of its current sixth through eight, with seventh and eighth graders given the choice of attending high school for elective courses such as foreign language and upper-level math. The rest of the district’s six schools would remain untouched.

All told, the district estimates the plan could save up to $130,000 annually.

When the district laid out its cons for the first configuration, it said an additional school transition would be difficult for students, transportation costs could rise fewer teachers would be available. In addition, extra staffing would be required at North Tahoe Middle School and North Tahoe High School to offer all of the programs both schools are required to give. Some of the pros included not shutting a school and bringing all North Shore students together at an earlier age.

The second proposed configuration would make North Tahoe Middle School a fourth- through eighth-grade program and keep Tahoe Lake and Kings Beach elementary schools open as kindergarten through third-grade schools, with Kings Beach serving only two-way immersion students and Tahoe Lake taking on all English mainstream students.

The district estimates the plan could save up to $75,000 annually.

For the second configuration’s cons, according to the school district, Tahoe Lake would be near capacity, transportation costs could rise and the community could be impacted by not having the option of an English-only education at Kings Beach. Pros included maintaining both elementary schools in their communities.

Some parents who spoke at the meeting were for the configurations, while some expressed their displeasure with the moves.

“I thought your presentation was so disingenuous,” said Stan Scott, a Tahoe City resident. Scott said there were cons not taken into account by the school district, including the disruption of education at Tahoe Lake Elementary. “We’re seriously considering moving away.”

Other North Shore parents voiced their concern about Kings Beach going to an immersion only program in the second configuration.