Truckee Tahoe school district: $2.5M in cuts to come by January | SierraSun.com
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Truckee Tahoe school district: $2.5M in cuts to come by January

TRUCKEE, Calif. and#8212; A dramatic decline in property tax revenue caused school district officials to report this week that $2.5 million must be cut from the current budget for the next school year, with decisions likely to be made by the end of January.

Standing in front of a projector screen at Wednesday nightand#8217;s board workshop, Steve Dickinson, Tahoe Truckee Unified School District superintendent of finances, said the board needs to begin looking at budget cuts after last monthand#8217;s news from the districtand#8217;s three counties (Placer, El Dorado and Nevada counties) that property tax revenue has dropped due to lower home prices; hence, less revenue for the school district.

Dickinson estimated in late August the district would suffer a $2 million setback.



and#8220;This is not news thatand#8217;s going to get any better. Nothing is going to change this information,and#8221; Dickinson said.

Though there is cause for action, Dickinson said there is still no cause for immediate alarm as the districtand#8217;s current $7.6 million reserves can cover the district.



However, beyond 2009-10, reserves would only extend for three years, something Dickinson said and#8212; with which the board agreed and#8212; should not happen considering the present state of the economy and unforeseeable future costs.

and#8220; … the black and white of $7.6 million is three years,and#8221; Dickinson said.

Further endangering the districtand#8217;s financial health, Dickinsonand#8217;s $2.5 million estimation is based on property tax revenues remaining flat, an assumption that could prove untrue after talking with a county assessor who said more mass property re-evaluations could happen as soon as March or April of next year.

As a Basic Aid school district, TTUSD receives the majority of its revenue through property taxes, and additional revenue occurs through the sale of new or appreciating properties. Falling revenue happens when properties depreciate in value, resulting in lower amounts of property taxes that are collected, the latter of which has been the case for many properties in Tahoe.

Outlining a timeline for decisions, Dickinson recommended input and community collaboration could happen from October through December; yet, by January a decision would have to be made by the board for potential teacher and staff layoff notices by March 15.

Come January, the board will have a new makeup, with residents Dianna Driller and Kim Szczurek joining current President Kristy Olk, trustee Kirsten Livak and a still-to-be-determined fifth trustee.

The impact of the news on trustees was met by an urgency for a proactive, long-term solution.

and#8220;I donand#8217;t think that weand#8217;ve accepted that weand#8217;re in a totally different world and a totally different reality,and#8221; Livak said. and#8220;We had better look at it in a different way than just shrinking the current model until it fades away.and#8221;

Livak suggested dramatic changes are needed, even if means reorganizing the districtand#8217;s educational model.

Outgoing trustee Bev Ducey expressed concern about the immediate future and what the district could do in the meantime. Ducey gave instruction to Dickinson to begin creating possible scenarios of property tax revenue increases and decreases so the district could evaluate its options sooner.

and#8220;We need to be looking at this yesterday,and#8221; Ducey said. and#8220;We need to make our best guess and be as accurate as possible.and#8221;

Commending previous board actions to maintain the reserve, Ducey said she was grateful for conservative foresight.

and#8220;This isnand#8217;t because of bad fiscal management,and#8221; Ducey said. and#8220;This is because of the economy and the recession. There is a lot we could do (in the way of budget cuts) this year that weand#8217;re not doing consciously because we have a reserve.and#8221;

Weighing the gravity of the situation, Olk said the board would gather as much input from teachers and parents on what cuts should be made and how to implement them; however, Dickinson reminded trustees the decision comes down solely to a board vote.

and#8220;Itand#8217;s a large cut and ultimately this board will make the decision and there wonand#8217;t be too many people coming to this board saying and#8216;thank you for this cutand#8217; or and#8216;thank you for that cut,and#8217;and#8221; Dickinson said. and#8220;Theyand#8217;re going to be difficult decisions.and#8221;


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