TTEA weighs in on district reserve fund

Kyle Magin
Sierra Sun

TAHOE/ TRUCKEE and#8212; In a report issued and delivered last week, Tahoe Truckee Education Association President Mike Merriman listed a number of concerns and contentions with the way the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District handled the budget reduction process this year.

Cuts have included a reduction of about 30 teachers.

Merriman said the school boardand#8217;s decision to grow the districtand#8217;s reserve fund from 3 percent to 5-6 percent while laying off teachers isnand#8217;t in keeping with the districtand#8217;s mantra of keeping cuts as far from the classroom as possible.

and#8220;TTEA adamantly wants to communicate to the community that we do not support any decisions that increase the savings of this district by cutting certificated and classified personnel which directly affect our students,and#8221; Merrimanand#8217;s report reads. and#8220;We also encourage the district to use these extra funds to save class size and programs which the community has clearly communicated as a priority.and#8221;

Steve Dickinson, district assistant superintendent of finance, defended increases in the reserve fund. In a response released by the district Tuesday, the district pointed to and#8216;volatileand#8217; swings in property taxes which donand#8217;t affect other districts because the district receives a majority of their funding from property taxes. The document stated 10 percent of the district budget is preferable to 3 percent in the reserve fund.

and#8220;We understand the unionand#8217;s concern about building a budget reserve in a year that we are sustaining cuts,and#8221; Dickinson said. and#8220;But we have to look long term. By building a reserve now we are in effect saving future jobs.and#8221;

Merriman also took issue with the districtand#8217;s increase in administration and#8212; a resolution passed last week to ax a vacant administration position and fill it with a district-wide teaching position, which the school district said is non-administrative.

and#8220;It weighs on me as the president of TTEA to look into the faces of my colleagues who are laid off and facing extreme stress and uncertainty in their familyand#8217;s lives; when at the same time the district leadership does not cut their staff like all other employee groups have experienced, but rather increases it and also is moving forward to encourage the board to increase the reserve above 6 percent,and#8221; Merriman said.

In their response, the district maintained it did cut administration, a move which resulted in an overall savings of $93,000. It said the two positions it added were teaching positions and#8212; one is an English Language learner coordinator and#8212; effective district-wide.

Merriman also said the Association would take a neutral position on the petition to recall three board members and#8212; President Kristy Olk, trustees Bill Kraus and Bev Ducey. The union encouraged both sides of the recall debate to meet so they may communicate clearly and#8212; a meeting Merriman and the union offered to facilitate.

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