Tahoe Truckee schools parents: District lacks lakeside support | SierraSun.com

Tahoe Truckee schools parents: District lacks lakeside support

Kyle Magin
Sierra Sun

TRUCKEE, Calif. and#8212; A lack of instructional support at the school districtand#8217;s lakeside campuses is hurting English language learners, parents said this week.

Parents at Wednesdayand#8217;s Tahoe Truckee Unified School Districtand#8217;s board meeting expressed dismay with the lack of teacherand#8217;s aides and instructional support for English language learners, saying the district must do more to help these students lest they struggle academically.

Tahoe City resident Jennifer Borwick was among a handful of parents who spoke to the issue, and stressed the students needed more English language instruction than the 20-30 minutes per day they receive at Tahoe Lake Elementary.

and#8220;Integrating the English learners does assist in acquisition of verbal skills,and#8221; said Borwick, adding, though, it doesnand#8217;t translate into academic success.

She outlined various successful EL programs from coast to coast which consist of a much greater percentile and#8212; sometimes 30 percent of the day and#8212; of English language instructional time.

and#8220;You need to hire a consultant who has worked with these curriculums,and#8221; Borwick said.

The board had previously agreed to rehire a number of instructional aides but hadnand#8217;t yet settled on job descriptions, thus hadnand#8217;t yet hired the positions.

Trustees instructed Dave Curry, district curriculum director, to bring the hires before the board as quickly as possible. Curry said he could return the positions for the boardand#8217;s approval within the month.

About 50 residents attended Wednesdayand#8217;s meeting at the Sierra Mountain Community Education Center in Truckee.

Trustee Lisa Mohun said the districtand#8217;s controversial reconfiguration plan needs to be discussed with parents at an upcoming board workshop on the districtand#8217;s lakeside.

and#8220;I think we owe more discussion about it to them at this time,and#8221; Mohun said. and#8220;Iand#8217;d like to see a small piece of our board workshop dedicated to the parents, teachers and students over there.and#8221;

The North Tahoe parents cheered Mohunand#8217;s stance, clapping and shouting and#8220;listen to her,and#8221; as trustee Bev Ducey began to respond.

and#8220;I donand#8217;t think we should be facilitating that sort of discussion; I think thatand#8217;s more appropriate for parents to bring up at the site level with their administrators,and#8221; Ducey said, adding administrators could more appropriately discuss those issues with the board.

Both Mohun and trustee Kirsten Livak disagreed. Livak said the board must rely on the community to give it a ground-level view because trustees donand#8217;t have the time to fully devote to visiting each site thoroughly.

The board agreed to consider some sort of future town hall meeting to discuss the subject.

During reconfiguration discussion, Borwick asking what the board would do if she brought 100 people for public comment, if the board would cut them off.

Board protocol provides 30 minutes during a meeting for public comment, and 3 minutes for each speaker. Commenters who donand#8217;t get to speak are invited to do so at a second public comment section scheduled for the end of the meeting.

Later, John Mohun, Lisa Mohunand#8217;s husband and a local attorney, questioned whether the boardand#8217;s policy was in accordance with Californiaand#8217;s open meeting laws.

Board President Kristy Olk clarified board policy is to instruct staff to agendize any items of concern raised during public comment for a future board meeting to discuss the issue more deeply.

The board agreed to analyze its public comment procedures with legal counsel and agendize the item for a future board meeting to clarify their procedures with the public.

Custom Learning Academy Principal Lisa Crosby spoke to the board about her concern over credits not transferring from her accredited private school to TTUSDand#8217;s high schools.

Crosby, whose Truckee-based school gained full accreditation this year after previously being solely accredited in math since 2006, said sheand#8217;d been notified by district staff only one course per student would earn them credit at Truckee High School, and any credits past that would not count; in addition the district would need to test students for proficiency in those courses.

and#8220;To be fully accredited under the (Western Association of Schools and Colleges) we must demand the same level of excellence Truckee High School does,and#8221; Crosby said.

She asked that board to review its policy toward accepting private credits and make sure that policy is fairly applied to CLA.

Superintendent Steve Jennings said heand#8217;d agendize the matter for the board to discuss at its December meeting.

The board members in attendance (Bill Kraus was ill) agreed to hire an academic coach to work with teachers on English Language learner-education.

and#8220;These people are teachers with a certain amount of experience who work with an entire teaching staff,and#8221; Curry said. and#8220;They work with our teachers on techniques and in turn end up benefiting the entire student body.and#8221;

They also agreed to accept the budget calendar for the 2010-11 school year presented by Steve Dickinson, assistance superintendent of finance.

The plan mirrors last yearand#8217;s timeline, and Dickinson noted that the first interim report on the status of this yearand#8217;s budget is due in December. He said the district is currently just under budget for the school year.