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TTUSD considers electives funding

ABHUTCHISON, Sierra Sun

A preliminary study on school district electives funding shows funding for athletics, music and fine and performing arts are fairly equitable, according district officials.

Last year the Tahoe-Truckee Unified School District Board of Trustees requested that a study be conducted to determine the amount of general fund and Measure S monies spent on electives and co-curricular programs in the district.

The study, which evaluates the elective and co-curricular activities spending during the 1998-1999 school year at the two middle schools and two high schools in the district, is being conducted by University of Nevada, Reno graduate student and Truckee resident Liz Schott. At last week’s regular board meeting, Schott presented the first draft of her findings.

“We want to try and give kids really rich programs, but to do that you have to pay dollars,” said TTUSD board president Suzanne Prouty.

One purpose of the study is to determine if general fund dollars are being allocated by the board to the elective programs on an equitable basis. The study at this time only shows the spending on electives at district middle and high school for last year.

The board also hopes the study will help them evaluate the district’s decision to cut athletic funding by $50,000 in 1999-2000, said Prouty.

“We cut a huge chunk of athletics last year and we need to ask, was that the right thing to do,” Prouty said.

“My personal conclusion just based on general fund dollar amounts, is that our athletics provide a lot of enrichment for our kids and it’s not a huge expenditure,” Prouty said. “When you consider what we get from the state per child for funding, $100 for athletics isn’t very much. It (athletics) has huge implications to keep our children well-rounded, safe and healthy.”

The study showed that before the athletics budget was cut, the district spends $119 per student participating student at Tahoe-Truckee High School and $116 per student at North Tahoe High School with general fund dollars. Schott said in her finding that hypothetically, if $25,000 was taken off of both schools’ athletics budgets, the adjusted cost per student at TTHS would be $104 and the adjusted cost per student at NTHS would be $99.

At both high schools, adjusted cost per student with general fund dollars for the other electives offered range between $59 and $107, mostly averaging more than $80. Measure S monies contribute to all electives at both high schools except for athletics, but the amount per student was not part of this draft of the study.

“It’s nice to see we’re not skewed from one elective or activity to another,” TTUSD Superintendent Pat Gemma said. “The initial study shows we have a pretty equitable situation.”

He said he is pleased the cut in athletics brings the spending on that elective closer to the others.

Although the district electives funding was fairly equitable between the various activities, the district spending on the band programs at the middle school was not. According to the study, no general fund dollars are spent on the Sierra Mountain Middle School band program, while the district spent $37,713 on the North Tahoe Middle School band program, or $80 per participating student. Measure S contributes $55,000 to SMMS’s band program and $31,900 to NTMS’s band program. Last year, 222 SMMS and 235 NTMS students participated in band.

Board members and district staff said they would look into this discrepancy immediately.

Gemma said the other piece of research they will ask Schott to examine is what percentage of the total cost of a particular activity is funded by the general fund, by Measure S and by all of the other fund-raising for that activity.

Further findings will be presented at the January board meeting.


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