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Schools: Disparity continues between Truckee, lake side enrollment

Renee Shadforth, Sierra Sun

Student enrollment is up in the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District over last year’s numbers, but the student head count is still lower than that of two and three years ago.

Jo Lynn Wilson, assistant superintendent of personnel, presented the district’s enrollment numbers at Wednesday’s school board meeting. Enrollment as of Jan. 28 was 4,511 students, compared to last year’s 4,439 students and 2001-02’s head count of 4,521.

“I think there’s an increase of students because of Prosser Creek,” Wilson said of the charter school the district shut down in the fall due to the school’s financial difficulties. Many of Prosser Creek’s in-district students now attend TTUSD’s traditional schools or Creekside Magnet School, an alternative program created by the district and modeled after one of Prosser Creek’s former programs.

“We’re still feeling a significant loss on the lake side of the district,” Wilson added.

Between October 2003 and the end of January, district enrollment dropped by approximately 70 students, a trend that continues from years past.

However, enrollment is up by 40 students at Tahoe Truckee High School. Wilson attributed the increase to students who attend non-district programs in middle school – like private or charter schools – and transition to public schools to participate in athletic or other school programs.

The district will use this year’s enrollment numbers to make 2004-05 budget assumptions. The number of students the district has this year will determine how TTUSD will plan its staffing and programs for next school year.

Wilson said the district business office will probably use a conservative enrollment number to budget for next year. School board President Cindy Gustafson agreed with the idea.

“I’d urge that we use the most conservative numbers … rather than having to consolidate later,” she said.

Preliminary budget assumptions

Now that the school district business office has Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposed budget, it can begin planning for how it will spend next year.

Revenue assumptions include a 1.84 percent Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) from the state, property tax collections from Nevada, Placer and El Dorado counties and expected federal entitlements.

Although district expenditures are vague at this point, with employee contracts still to be negotiated, the district will build staffing levels based on enrollment projections.

The assumptions include a reserve for times of economic uncertainty – 3 percent of the district’s total expenditures. The school board amended the assumption so the reserve can be modified in the event the district becomes basic aid.

In a basic aid workshop last month, a consultant suggested that the district have a larger reserve when it becomes basic aid.

If TTUSD becomes basic aid, it will receive its primary funding through county property tax revenues, plus $120 per student from the state.

In other news

Tahoe Truckee Education Association representative Mike Merriman spoke on behalf of temporary and probationary teachers in the district. Merriman said the teachers were upset that they had received a letter from the district that they must receive their Cross-cultural Language in Academic Development (CLAD) certification by March 1.

“Even if teachers enroll right now, there’s no way they can make that,” Merriman said.

Assistant superintendent of personnel Wilson said she had been meeting with probationary teachers to discuss their options with the certification and how they can put off certification until a later date.

For more information on TTUSD’s basic aid status, check out the Sierra Sun archives at http://www.sierrasun.com.


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