Teachers union addresses upcoming cuts
TRUCKEE-TAHOE “-A projected $3 million shortfall in the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District’s 2009-10 budget will affect many of the district’s employees, both teachers and other staff.
District administration said meeting the projected shortfall probably means laying off a number of personnel, something the union for teacher’s in the district, the Tahoe Truckee Education Association, says they understand.
“We understand it’s very likely the district will need to make reductions,” said Jon Halvorsen, vice president of the TTEA. “We want to work with the district to make sure those reductions stay as far away from the classroom as possible.
“Hopefully, this process can be used in a positive manner so that we become a better district and manage our resources more effectively,” Halvorsen said.
President Mike Merriman agreed, saying the object of any reductions should be to affect the day-to-day running of a classroom very little.
“The teachers have concerns with restructuring, which will probably mean a cut in staffing, and we want to make sure this is done in a way that is best for our kids,” Merriman said.
He said teachers are “most definitely” concerned with increasing class sizes, something that will be a reality if teachers are let go or retiring teachers are not replaced.
“It’s a whole lot harder to teach 34 students than to teach 20,” Merriman said.
Halvorsen, a teacher at Truckee High School, said members of the teacher’s union have been receiving the same information members of the community have by attending budget forums put on by the district at separate school sites.
“We’ve participated in the process so far mostly as members of the community, and as teachers in the staff budget meetings, and want to work with the district,” Halvorsen said.
He pointed out that parents, teachers and students in the School District are lucky because of the district’s status as a basic aid district, meaning most of the district’s revenue comes from property taxes, which is unlike many districts in California, who rely heavily on state funding.
Both were careful to say the teachers and district are not at odds with each other over the budget process so far.
“This isn’t a union-against-the-district situation,” Merriman said. “We want to work with them, so that we do what is best for the kids.”
Halvorsen said teachers still have a number of questions about some of the proposed solutions, including the possibility of sharing teachers between multiple school sites.
“There are just a lot of questions about how that would work, how schedules would be changed, and how this would affect our programs,” Halvorsen said.
The Tahoe Truckee Unified School District this week completed its community forums at a number of local school sites. Assistant Superintendent Steve Dickinson was on hand to explain the projected $3 million budget gap and to solicit ideas from community members on how to bridge the budget divide. Read ideas from the community at http://www.ttusd.org.
Superintendent Steve Jennings announced the School District’s administration has chosen to forgo raises in the upcoming year as part of an effort to stem the district’s projected $3 million shortfall.
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