Tahoe-Truckee Unified School District considers budget with surplus | SierraSun.com

Tahoe-Truckee Unified School District considers budget with surplus


Just over one year ago, the Tahoe-Truckee Unified School District faced a nearly $900,000 budget shortfall and made over $600,000 in cuts to its 1999-2000 budget to balance its spending plan and meet the state-mandated 3 percent reserve.

This year, due to an extra $2.4 million in state funding, the 2000-01 budget projections show the district will come out ahead of its required three percent reserve.

“It looks better than ever before,” TTUSD Superintendent Pat Gemma said of the 2000-01 budget.

The 2000-01 budget in its current form, which is up for board approval at tonight’s meeting in Tahoe City, reflects a $29.5 million spending plan with a June 30, 2001 ending balance of $2.24 million, which will be available for economic uncertainties (the required reserve), salary negotiations and program enhancement.

Gemma said the extra state funding, which brought an additional $440 per student without mandates, made developing the 2000-01 budget an easier task.

Both Gemma and TTUSD Director of Business Services Monty Folsom said the budget will change significantly in the fall when the district knows more about four things: the state adopted budget, the true enrollment, the true spending balance and the result of salary negotiations.

“Then we will really know what kind of money is available to bring back lost programs and address district-wide needs,” Gemma said.

Negotiations for 2000-01 are just beginning, said Folsom.

The budget is based on a projected enrollment of 4,570 students – an increase of approximately 32 students. The budget will not reflect a teacher salary increase until negotiations are completed. Additional programs or enhancements requested by parents and community members earlier this month, will also not be addressed until negotiations are complete, Folsom said.

Expenditures in the 2000-01 budget include:

— Salaries for certificated staff based on: Staffing based on 28 pupils for grades 4 and 5 and 6-12; current certificated staff with a 0 percent COLA and $410,000 for step and column adjustment at 1999-2000 levels less four teachers with benefits; increases were also added for minimum teacher salary ($32,000) and associated coaches stipends.

— Salaries for classified staff based on: Current staff with 0 percent Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) and $110,000 for stop and column; custodial services were increased to 19998-99 level at 2.2 FTE added staff; one painter person added back to budget

— Employee benefits adjusted for four less teachers

— Workers compensation rate adjusted to an approximate $150,000 increase

— Supplies budgeted at 1999-2000 level with adjustment in categorical programs expenses to balance with revenues

–1998-99 Plan B cuts reinstated for personnel recruitment, maintenance supplies, nurse district travel, and administrative consultants ($17,050)

— No turnover savings is budgeted

— Other expenditures are budgeted to include $115,000 transfer to deferred maintenance and $210,000 to retiree benefits fund

–All other expenditures budgeted at operating 1999-2000 budget level

— Staff development of $7,500 for confidential employees per contract

— $65,000 was added for election expense and $50,000 added to bring gas heating up to the 1998-1999 level

— Total maintenance budget is 3 percent of general fund budget

The budget being submitted to the board tonight is not a definite budget and is being left open until district staff can learn more information, Folsom said.

While the state requires school districts to have 3 percent reserve in their budgets, the TTUSD Board of Trustees has recommended a 4 percent reserve.

“We don’t want to have any sort of financial emergency like we’ve had in the past,” said board member Pat Gibbons-Johnson. “We need to look at what cuts are appropriate to add back as well as the salary piece, which is critical. We also need to know exactly what we’re getting from the state. The additional money isn’t all much and we have to fiscally conservative.”

Folsom said the district is still experiencing a slight decline in enrollment, and with plans for new facilities in the works, staff and board members hope to plan for the increased costs the district faces in the future.

“We don’t want to put this district in financial distress in two years,” Gibbons-Johnson said. “There’s a lot we’re not committed to yet. Personally, I’m really interested in increasing our reserve and I hope people understand the reasons for that.”

The budget will be submitted to Placer County Department of Education Superintendent on Friday.

The school board meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. in the Tahoe City Public Utility District boardroom, located on 221 Fairway Drive. A public hearing on the proposed budget will begin at 7 p.m.

Other items on the agenda include:

— Ratify contract for North Tahoe High School dark room project

— Ratify contract for North Tahoe high and middles school gymnasium floor replacement

–Ratify contract for Kings Beach Elementary roofing project

— Approve board policy on intradistrict attendance

— Funding for transportation/maintenance/food services facility

— Approve multiage program at Rideout Elementary

–Approve to authorize superintendent to negotiate a contract with an outside agency to conduct Measure S voter survey

Discussions items include:

–Public relations efforts for TTUSD

— Report from Fiscal Review Committee on operational costs

For information, call the school district office at 582-7600.

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