Tahoe Truckee Education Association’s open letter to the community
Along with members of the community and parents, the teachers of the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District strongly oppose the actions of the district administrators and school board on the adoption of resolution 19 on Wednesday, March 4.
This resolution allows the district to give a lay-off notice to over 90 teachers, approximately one-third of the entire number of teachers in the district. While the district administration maintain that this noticing is simply to allow flexibility in restructuring the staffing at schools, teachers are left wondering if they will have a job and parents are left wondering if their children will be stuffed into classrooms with over thirty students in the years to come. One example of the resolution which can be found on the Tahoe Truckee Teachers website (www.tahoetruckeeteachers.org ) includes giving out pink slips to 45 elementary teachers. This is based on a scenario at staffing k-3 grades at 31 students per teacher and grades 4-5 at 33 students per teacher.
The primary rationale for opposition to the district’s movement toward increasing class sizes is that TTUSD is a Basic Aid district and has been experiencing revenue growth throughout the recent years, including the current 2008-09 budget year. Due to its basic aid status, TTUSD will continue to experience a revenue increase next year. The community was also dismayed at the fact that the district’s first major actions towards dealing with a proposed deficit were to make cuts directly in the classroom. Completely contrary to all of the input received from community members during the district led budget forums over the past months. To fairly examine the issue, TTEA has contacted other basic aid districts to find out how similar districts are dealing with changes in school budgets. All five of the districts that responded stated that they would not be making any of the dramatic cuts that TTUSD is proposing.
In addition, Gayle Garbolino-Mojica, the Superintendent of schools for Placer County Office of Education, TTUSD’s governing body, stated in a presentation on the status of schools in Placer County, “They’re (TTUSD) kind of in a really good situation financially … as long as they continue to be funded by on their property taxes, financially that district will be financially stable.” This presentation was just last month, February 12th. Thus, the drastic number of layoff notices seems counter-intuitive to the clear desire of the community as demonstrated at forums to keep highly qualified teachers and low class sizes. Furthermore, teachers and community members question the district’s decision to aim the first cuts at teachers, who make up only 42 percent of the current budget.
At the board meetings on Monday and Wednesday, teachers, parents and community members urged the board to honor the input made at previous budget forums, and keep cuts as far from the classroom as possible. They asked to have access to the district office payroll information, and to make cuts from the top down with personnel who do not have contact with students. Participants at the Monday meeting adamantly requested that TTUSD stop spending public funds on a Public Relations firm and listen to what the community has shared. The teachers of this district encourage everyone to contact the board members and district administration regarding this matter and attend the upcoming budget workshops and regular meetings. This information can be found on our website at http://www.tahoetruckeeteachers.org.
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