Tahoe/Truckee schools budget cuts to be discussed tonight | SierraSun.com

Tahoe/Truckee schools budget cuts to be discussed tonight

Jenell SchwabSierra Sun

TRUCKEE/TAHOE, Calif. andamp;#8212; While school administrators will propose the elimination of 15.6 full-time equivalent, certified teaching positions Wednesday evening, the recommendation is one that is subject to change, said Superintendent Steve Jennings.andamp;#8220;Anything that happens between now and May 15 could change what happens tomorrow,andamp;#8221; Jennings said Tuesday afternoon. andamp;#8220;But if we donandamp;#8217;t do anything now, then we have no ability to make adjustments later.andamp;#8221;Though some of the proposed cuts are due to a steep decline in enrollment in public schools, mainly the layoffs are an attempt to address what has now become, through a reduction in state funds and property tax revenues, a $5 million shortfall in the districtandamp;#8217;s 2012-andamp;#8217;13 budget.School officials have said they plan to spend down the districtandamp;#8217;s reserve fund to cover $3.2 million of the deficit, and to address the remaining $1.8 million with reductions to the operational budget.Teacher cuts will account for $842,399 of operational reductions, with remaining reductions to come from other sources such as textbook and maintenance allocations, administration costs and classified staff.School administrators are legally bound to notify certified positions andamp;#8212; teachers andamp;#8212; of the districtandamp;#8217;s intent to lay off by March 15, but final notices do not have to be delivered until May 15.andamp;#8220;Unfortunately, the district has these deadlines,andamp;#8221; said Jon Halvorsen, a parent, teacher and vice president of the Tahoe Truckee Education Association, the local teachers union. andamp;#8220;That does not mean that negotiations have stopped. Both sides are definitely interested in continuing the discussions.andamp;#8221;The 15.6 number does not necessarily translate into 15 and half teachers receiving pink slips, Jennings said. The recommendation is to cut the equivalent of 15.6 positions andamp;#8212; a reduction which, at the extreme end of the theory, might come from reducing several positions rather than completely eliminating any one particular job.Details as to which positions would be reduced or eliminated andamp;#8212; whether those jobs will be from high schools, elementary schools, academic classes or elective programs, for example andamp;#8212; have yet to be determined.An independent analysis by Leisa Peterson, president of the parents association, said the teachers union and the school district disagree over one central issue. andamp;#8220;At the end of the day, there remains a shortfall,andamp;#8221; wrote Peterson in an email delivered to more than 600 parents, teachers, administrator and stakeholders, andamp;#8220;between what the district is willing to contribute out of their reserves and what the TTEA (and possibly the other employee groups) are willing to do when it comes to concessions.andamp;#8221;TTUSDandamp;#8217;s reserve fund, by district policy, is kept between 9 percent and 15 percent of its annual operating budget. In recent years, the account has risen higher than needed, officials said, and spending down the account by $3.2 million for 2012-13 will bring the fund into the 10 percent range. Dropping the account any further, however, places the district in a situation where it may not be able to manage future financial risks, including potential budget cuts.Halvorsen said the teachers union is willing to negotiate concessions such as a freeze in pay raises or the integration of furlough days, but it wants to make sure other cuts are also considered.Though school board president Kirsten Livak said she did not want to stress out teachers with potential lay-off notices which may or may not be rescinded at a later date, she agreed she wanted to continue working with the teachers union.andamp;#8220;Absolutely.andamp;#8221; said Livak. andamp;#8220;I didnandamp;#8217;t take this volunteer job to make other people lose their jobs.andamp;#8221;