School district approves 7.69 reductions; dissenting trustee calls plan and#8216;morally repugnantand#8217;
TRUCKEE, Calif. and#8212; and#8220;Morally repugnantand#8221; were the words one trustee used to describe the school districtand#8217;s recently approved budget-cut plan that includes the elimination of 7.69 full-time teaching positions, furlough days and a reduction in coaching stipends.
The words were uttered by newly elected Tahoe Truckee Unified School District Trustee Randy Hill, who said although he respects teachers greatly, he could not justify the Tahoe Truckee Education Association, the local teacherand#8217;s union, and its apparent unwillingness to make concessions that could have perhaps prevented teacher layoffs.
and#8220;Now Iand#8217;m either the canary in the mine or Chicken Little, but either way I cannot support this resolution,and#8221; said Hill, referring to the memorandum of understanding between the district and the TTEA, approved by a 4-1 vote Wednesday night by the school board at a special meeting in Truckee.
Hill was the lone trustee to not support the MOU, devised to solve the districtand#8217;s looming $2.25 million deficit for the 2011-12 school year.
Backing up his vote, Hill explained Wednesday night that thousands of teachers each year are being laid off in California and nationwide, and the educators who will be laid off here will have a difficult time finding work elsewhere, especially regionally.
and#8220;These people cannot just go across the street and get another job,and#8221; Hill said. and#8220;They may have to go off the mountain.and#8221;
During Wednesdayand#8217;s meeting, Jon Halvorsen, TTEA co-president, said the final agreement and all negotiated concessions leading up to it were approved by a majority of teachers; TTEA leadership was not acting without their consent and direction.
and#8220;The teachers were negotiating that (agreement) and I believe our teachers are actually morally upstanding people in the community,and#8221; Halvorsen said in a follow-up interview Thursday. and#8220;As far as saying itand#8217;s up to the teachers to make enough concessions to balance the budget to prevent layoffs and#8212; itand#8217;s just not a fair expectation.and#8221;
Halvorsen said he feels no animosity toward Hill and his comments, only that they show more education is needed regarding how a collective bargaining unit functions.
Looking at negotiations as a whole, Halvorsen said he viewed them as positive and collaborative, in light of hard decisions.
and#8220;Itand#8217;s been much more collaborative, and thatand#8217;s the truth,and#8221; Halvorsen said. and#8220;We were the first group to offer concessions, and I think that helped with the process to be more positive.and#8221;
Late last year, it was first estimated as many as 27.5 positions could be eliminated prior to the 2011-12 fiscal year turnover (July 1, 2011); that worst-case number dropped to 18.5 in January 2011.
Among the layoffs and reductions, all TTUSD superintendents, school administrators and teachers will be required to take five furlough days (nonpaid days off) during the 2011-12 fiscal year. The budget also calls for reduced athletic stipends to current coaching staff, and a reduction of extra duty pay by 25 percent.
As for layoffs, the elementary schools will be hardest hit, as four elementary teachers, one elementary English language learner site coordinator and one elementary vice principal will be let go.
David Inns, TTUSD superintendent of human resources, said the district and union negotiated these layoffs because requiring the same amount of reductions at the high schools would result in whole sections of electives and non-mandatory classes being cut; where as at the elementary level, children can still receive a complete curriculum.
Notwithstanding, secondary grades were approved for a 1.69 full-time equivalent position reductions in staffing within Spanish, chemistry, marine biology, forensics and construction and industrial arts.
Inns told trustees class sizes will not be affected drastically at the elementary schools, with the greatest increase being at Tahoe Lake Elementary, where the current 19-to-1 student-teacher ratio would be upped to 22.3-to-1.
and#8220;The overall picture is that class sizes will be pretty much the same,and#8221; Inns said.
Though an elimination of 7.69 full-time equivalent positions has been approved, Inns said this doesnand#8217;t mean district staff will lay off or cut hours of an excessive amount of employees.
Each year there are retirements, which could be part of the number, as well as positions that could be reassigned, Inns said.
and#8220;This number would have been a great deal higher if not for TTEA, so thanks to them,and#8221; Inns said.
Excluding Hill, the other trustees agreed the reductions are far better than what could have been.
and#8220;None of us really realized what we would have to go through in December, January and February and to be here today,and#8221; said Kirsten Livak, board president.
Thanking the TTEA for its cooperation, Livak said both sides held a firm understanding of the financial gravity and outcomes during negotiations, considering economic times and layoff trends around the nation.
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