School temp staff part of budget cuts, administrators looking into ‘classified’ employment status
Compared to other school districts across the state, Tahoe Truckee Unified, with its parcel tax revenue and philanthropic community, may be considered to be among the lucky ones in the current state budget crisis.
However, due to the imminent budget crisis, the district has sent letters its temporary employees, 34 positions in all, telling them not to expect to return in the fall.
“There’s been a lot of stability in our district. Maybe it’s created a false sense of security and that’s about to change,” said school board trustee Karen Van Epps.
Staffing makes up roughly 85 percent of the district’s budget.
“We’ve trimmed the fat, and now we’re down to the meat of the district,” Van Epps said. “I’ve never seen times like these.”
While many districts have given pink slips to probationary staff (non-tenured teachers with their district for less than two years) by the state-mandated March 15 deadline, Tahoe Truckee Unified has only had to look at its temporary staff.
“Their contracts end June 30. They know that’s their status,” said Assistant Superintendent Jo Lynn Wilson.
As times have become more dire in the school system, the rumor mill among staff has become stronger, so even though the district was not required to give the letters to temporary staff, Wilson said the notifications were sent as a courtesy to prevent any confusion.
However, what started as an effort to prevent confusion for Tahoe Truckee Unified School District staff, may have created more uncertainty for the district’s notified staff.
“There’s been some confusion as to whether some (notified) staff was actually temporary or not,” said Sherrie Ebyam, the lead negotiator for the teacher’s union, TTEA.
When temporary employees are hired, they sign papers notifying that they are temporary, Ebyam said. If not, they are considered classified staff, she said. At the time of her interview with the Sierra Sun, Ebyam was looking into the issue.
“I believe there may be some teachers that fall into this,” she said. “And I emphasize the ‘believe’ and ‘may’ in that statement. But if they [are not temporary staff] that opens up grounds for them to be reinstated.”
Another tactic the district may use to trim costs is shuffling staff. Trustee Van Epps said because of the cuts and declining enrollment, district employees should be prepared to fill different positions.
“We are reviewing credentials right now,” Van Epps said.
If the shuffling does occur, she added, it’s best for site administrators to know as soon as possible.
Site administrators have also been asked to look at how they can cut back at their schools. In addition, the district has discussed going to the community for another parcel tax vote this summer – a prospect some school board members find troubling.
“These are difficult times. It’s hitting everybody’s pocketbook,” Van Epps said. “So it’s hard to hold your hand out at times like these.”
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