School district: Prosser’s current site is ‘preferred option’
The Tahoe Truckee Unified School District board took a reluctant step toward allowing Prosser Creek Charter School to remain at its current site for another school year at its May 7 meeting.
The charter school’s sewage and the unpaved private road, where the school is currently located, continue to be fodder for the school board’s concerns over safety and monetary issues. District staff has estimated maintaining the road and sewer could cost as much as $150,000.
“My concern is with expending public funds on non-public property,” said trustee Cindy Gustafson. “Public fund investment on a private road must be seen as a lease.”
Consequently, the board made an amendment to the item, stating the district would not spend more on remaining at the site than it would have to spend to assist Prosser Creek’s move to Rideout – the second interim housing option – unless there is a reimbursement agreement with the charter school.
According to proposition 39, the school district will be required to provide Prosser Creek with reasonably equivalent facilities to those provided to students in the area where the charter school students reside by November 2003.
Prosser Creek will move to the Sierra Mountain Middle School campus by the beginning of the 2004-2005 school year, when the middle school’s new campus should be built, according to the current charter agreement.
Now district and Prosser Creek officials will try to obtain the proper permits and variances from the Town of Truckee and Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board.
“We don’t have anything at this point that is conclusive with either of them, but we haven’t hit any brick walls,” said interim superintendent Bob Nehls.
If town staff allows the permit extension for the current site, they want a “strong letter” from the district and charter school assuring that Prosser Creek would be off the site by June 2004, said John Britto, district manager of facilities and construction.
The estimated price tag for road and sewer maintenance does not include any mitigation costs to appease Prosser Creek’s Union Mills Road neighbors, namely Karan Eriksson, who continues to protest the high volume of traffic along the unpaved road.
“[Eriksson] is asking for the best paving job we can do. It is reasonable to say that perhaps [the conflict with the neighbors] is an issue the charter school needs to work out,” Britto said. “We will be the ones who have to make the assurances at this point to Lahontan and the town.”
If district and charter school officials cannot obtain the proper permits, Prosser Creek will move into Rideout Elementary School in Tahoe City for the 2003-2004 school. It’s a move that may present its own set of problems for both parties, like a possible decline in enrollment for the charter school, because the Truckee students and parents may not want to drive to Tahoe City every day. Also, it would lead to last-minute shuffling of students and teachers on the lake side of the district.
Gustafson said staff and students at Rideout and Tahoe Lake elementary schools need to know what their situation will be next year, as soon as possible.
Whatever the decision, the district must choose where Prosser Creek is housed quickly – the deadline to sign the final charter document is May 25.
“Our staff has been spending a tremendous amount of time on this,” Gustafson said. “We owe it to them to make a decision. This limbo – it’s May – we need to give people a decision so we can get on to other issues.”
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