School district to decide what will be cut |

School district to decide what will be cut

The Tahoe Truckee Unified School District budget review committee took the first move toward deciding what will be on the chopping block for the district’s 2003-2004 budget, without knowing exactly how much the state plans to cut from its education budget.

At last count, Gov. Gray Davis announced in January he wanted to cut $2.7 billion mid-year from the state public education budget, but there is no word on how much the state will cut to recover from its reported $34.6 million deficit.

At the school board’s April 23 board meeting, district business manager Ralph Johnson presented the committee’s findings, which aim to cut $2.3 million from the district’s $39 million annual budget over the next two school years and at least $805,000 in 2003/2004.

The committee, comprised of representatives from stakeholders in the district and board members Cindy Gustafson and Karen Van Epps, came up with more than 50 options to reduce the budget.

“Individually [the cuts] look OK, but overall they look like a burden,” Johnson said.

The board has planned to recommend specific cuts and reallocations to staff at the May 7 board meeting. The district must adopt a budget for review by the Placer County Office of Education by June 30.

The biggest challenge, said interim superintendent Bob Nehls, will be keeping the cuts as far from the classroom as possible.

“There’s not a thing on this list that we want to do,” Nehls said. “This is coming from the state budget crisis.”

The reduction suggestions were placed in separate categories and in priority order. Some of the highest cost savings were in the “certain student services impact” category – like raising the staff-to-student ratio to 30 to 1 at the high school and middle school levels and reducing the service level of transportation.

“Unfortunately, some of the big items were farther down on the list,” Johnson said. “These are things you don’t want to touch.”

The committee also suggested possible revenue sources, including a $20 parcel tax increase, which would generate approximately $667,000 for the district. Measure A currently taxes property owners $80 per parcel per year.

“There are some implications with Measure A. It will take time and public input,” said trustee Cindy Gustafson. “We’ll also need to hold focus groups.”

The committee also recommended charging for transportation, which at $1 per student per day would raise $216,000. Before instating a transportation charge, Johnson said, the board would ask for community input.

Transportation costs draw more than $1 million per year from the district’s general fund.

Last month, Tahoe Truckee Unified School District administrators notified their temporary staff – 34 positions in all – that they may not return for the 2003-2004 school year.

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