School district plans for Rideout program
After discussing the multi-age classroom program proposed for Rideout Elementary School and taking comments from the public, the school board advised Principal Jo Wilson to interview prospective teachers for the program.
During its June 19 special meeting, the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District Board of Trustees heard from Wilson, staff members from both Rideout and Tahoe Lake Elementary schools and parents interested in the multi-age program.
“The staffs at Rideout and Tahoe Lake recommend to the board that this proposal be postponed for one year so that we can further study it and look into other alternatives,” read a letter staff members submitted to the board.
Although a majority of the staff opposed starting the program for the 2000-2001 school year, Superintendent Pat Gemma said that he would recommend during the board’s June 29 meeting that the district approve the $40,000 neccesary to implement the program.
Although the program has not yet been approved, it currently has 41 students signed up for the upcoming school year; with 22 students from Rideout, 16 from Tahoe Lake and three from charter schools.
Although the program drew students away from the already existing public schools, Wilson said she didn’t expect the change to affect current staffing at those schools. A number of staff members from the two schools attended Monday’s meeting. They expressed concern that the program was being rushed into and asked the board to wait a year before beginning multi-age classrooms.
The letter submitted to the board listed staffing cuts and the ability of the existing Rideout facility to handle the needs of younger students among the group’s concerns. The letter also stated that, if given additional time, teachers at Tahoe Lake and Rideout could prepare to fill positions within the multi-age program.
“If I have a letter, signed by the staff, saying ‘please don’t,’ then I’m going to go with that,” said board member Suzanne Prouty.
Fellow board member Karen Van Epps said that she believes it is in the district’s best interest to go ahead with the program. If the program is held for a year, she said she could give no guarantee that both Rideout and Tahoe Lake would remain open.
“What happens in the state of California in a no-growth area?” Van Epps asked. “Schools get closed. The Tahoe Lake/Rideout area is a no-growth area. To not go ahead now – that scares me.”
Gemma said that the board did not need the support of the staff and that he would recommend during the next meeting that the program would be implemented.
“The board needs to realize that you don’t need buy-in to get accomplished what you want to – and that change doesn’t usually happen from within,” Gemma said.
The board will take action on the proposed multi-age program at its June 29 meeting.
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