School district eyes $3.5 million in cuts for 2013-’14 |

School district eyes $3.5 million in cuts for 2013-’14

Jenell Schwab
Sierra Sun

TRUCKEE/TAHOE – In the same week local teachers received lay-off notices for the upcoming school year, the school board and administration also launched initial discussions of possible budget cuts for 2013-’14.

“It’s time to start looking at Page Two items,” Steve Dickinson, finance director for the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District, told the medium-sized crowd at Wednesday’s board meeting at district offices in Truckee.

Page Two items include options to close or combine schools, along with cuts to athletics and/or transportation.

Dickinson showed the board a pie chart similar to the graphics he has displayed during previous meetings.

This chart, instead of displaying the breakdown of $1.8 million in cuts for 2012-’13, outlined $3.5 million in anticipated reductions for the 2013-’14 school year. The proposed cuts are again aligned with the district’s four main expenditure categories.

Dickinson expects to cut $1.6 million, or 46.8 percent of the entire reduction, from certified staff. Classified staff expenses will need to be reduced by $689,500, or 19.7 percent. Management and administration will take a $392,000 hit, or 11.2 percent. The remaining $780,500, 22.3 percent, will have to be cut from the last category – all other budget areas.

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The latter category, which includes lights, water, books, snow removal and the like, is what troubles Dickinson the most.

He said it was difficult enough to shave $401,539 from this category in the 2012-’13 budget – to find another $780,500 means looking closely at the option of school closures, Dickinson said in a separate interview.

The projected 2013-’14 budget will likely change over the next year, he said, but the Placer County Office of Education mandates the district’s preliminary budget report and subsequent draft reductions include worst-case scenario assumptions.

Dickinson is budgeting as if Gov. Jerry Brown’s school funding tax initiative due to appear on the November election ballot will fail, resulting in an increase to the district’s fair share contribution to the state – from $2.17 million in 2011-’12, to $3.5 million in 2012-’13 and beyond.

The district also is budgeting as if local property tax revenue will remain flat over the next few years, although Dickinson admitted the percentage will probably move slightly. A 1 percentage point jump or dip in property tax revenue equates to roughly $320,000 in revenue.

“A 2 percent gain in property tax revenue will help the situation, but not solve it,” he said.

Further complicating things, the district’s reserve account cannot be used to alleviate any future shortfalls, as it was spent down by $3.2 million to address the 2012-’13 shortfall, and is now at the lowest level allowed by board policy.

“We are still about $10 million better off than a basic aid school district our size,” said Dickinson. “Although it doesn’t feel like it, we have a lot to be appreciative of.”