Tahoe Truckee schools: Jazz band back, layoffs remain ‘unlikely’ | SierraSun.com

Tahoe Truckee schools: Jazz band back, layoffs remain ‘unlikely’

Jason Shueh
Sierra Sun

TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. and#8212; For Dean Nordby, kids are first when it comes to teaching and#8212; a lesson he said goes way beyond money and politics.

and#8220;If I could, I would teach the jazz band for free,and#8221; said Nordby, during Wednesdayand#8217;s Tahoe Truckee Unified School District Board of Trustees meeting.

He then added with a chuckle: and#8220;Iand#8217;m sure the teacherand#8217;s union is cringing hearing me say this.and#8221;

Nordby, former conductor of the North Tahoe High School jazz band, attended the meeting to promote a proposal from parents to rejuvenate the jazz band, one of the course offerings slashed from the high school when budget reductions hit this year.

After hearing urges from Nordby and parents to reinstate the class, the school board voted unanimously to do just that and#8212; but only for the rest of the school districtand#8217;s fiscal year, which ends June 30.

Both Nordby and school board trustees said they would investigate finding alternative funding options so a long-term solution could happen, and so the bandand#8217;s booster club and#8212; the North Tahoe Fan Club and#8212; does not have to delve deeper into reserves.

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Parents in the fan club had taken $7,000 out of its reserve funds to pay Nordbyand#8217;s salary for his off-the-clock lessons this year, as he and students still attend the class on their own time.

Part of the boardand#8217;s ruling Wednesday is for the fan club to raise another $7,000 to pay Nordbyand#8217;s salary for rest of the school year. District regulations require a minimum teacher salary of $14,000 for a class to receive credit.

After the meeting, Nordby said he is worried about the burden put on the fan club, as its reserves only total $30,000.

Superintendent Steve Jennings reassured parents and faculty the district will do everything in its power to ensure its application for state funding processes, thus voiding potential layoffs.

and#8220;It is a priority for us to get this accepted, and it is something we cannot afford not to do,and#8221; Jennings said.

The application, which is being considered by the California Department of Education, has the potential and#8212; if held up and#8212; to deny more than $1 million in funding to the district. The potential budget cut led the district last week to announce it would lay off as many as 22 teachers to cover the shortfall. Jennings has repeatedly said since the announcement the layoffs are and#8220;very, very unlikely.and#8221;

Trustee Kirsten Livak apologized to audience members about what she described as a premature announcement.

and#8220;I want to make sure everyone knows the reality of what happened … the statements that were made Wednesday night (at the last workshop) were really unnecessary,and#8221; she said.

Board trustee Bill Kraus was absent from Wednesdayand#8217;s meeting, and some in the Sierra Sunand#8217;s online reader community have questioned a perceived lack of involvement on his behalf.

In a Thursday interview, Kraus said he still is involved in everything that is happening with the district, including the topics discussed at Wednesdayand#8217;s meeting.

Kraus said he currently is in Washington doing consulting work and will participate in the boardand#8217;s next meeting. He explained he is in his legal right to travel for work, and he is still a Truckee resident.

and#8220;Itand#8217;s a specious argument that Iand#8217;m not involved,and#8221; he said.