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TTUSD considers new staff

ABHUTCHISON, Sierra Sun

The Tahoe-Truckee Unified School District staff of administrators may be growing in the near future.

At their Wednesday, Jan. 10 board meeting, school board members and staff discussed the possibility of reorganizing the administration to include a director of human resources and approving a new job description for an assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction.

While board members weren’t ready to approve the new position, they noted that hiring a director of human resources was recommended as a high priority by the Fiscal Crisis Management Assistance Team (FICMAT) and the Fiscal Review Committee, which claimed the administration was understaffed.

“I can’t believe there is a $30 million operation that doesn’t have a director of human resources, so I’m very supportive of trying to get this position established once we have settled with the classified (union),” Lakeside board member Cindy Gustafson said, referring to the unsettled salary negotiations with classified employees.

“This was a recommendation of FICMAT. I know that all taxpayers are concerned with too much administration in schools and taking what appears as money that should go to our kids, but this does serve a very important purpose with our district.”

Jim Abbott, who is currently the assistant superintendent for the district, focuses on both personnel and curriculum. If the new position was approved by the board, his new duties would focus primarily on curriculum and instruction. The cost to the district for adding a human resources director would be approximately $50,000 for the remainder of the school year and will come from the budget’s unrestricted reserve.

“I think it’s crucial to do this,” board member Pat Gibbons-Johnson said. “There are so many accountability measures the district is required to follow by the state.”

Board members agreed to discuss the issue in greater detail and to make a decision by the March board meeting if the district was still unable to reach a salary agreement with classified staff.

Board member Mel Cone said the administrative changes amount to setting up a backbone for what is to come in the future.

“I think it’s important for the board to acknowledge that when we engaged in negotiations this year with all employee groups, the concept was that not all of the ongoing money would go to salaries, but that some of the money would go to programming. Sometimes programming equates to new positions,” TTUSD Superintendent Pat Gemma said at the meeting.

Other administrative changes were discussed at the meeting as well. The board unanimously approved to make Jim Maass’ current position of half-time technology coordinator for the district to a full-time position, a job description that was approved by the board a year ago. The change will cost the district approximately $15,000 from its unrestricted reserve for the remainder of the school year. If Measure A passes in March, the position would be paid for by bond funds. If the bond fails renewal, the board will look at either eliminating the position or come up with another way to finance it.

The board also approved a job description for an in-house hazardous materials handling specialist, a job that was formerly contracted out.

“We have the need to remove hazardous material from time to time,” Gemma said. “Typically, the district contracts that out at a very expensive cost, up to $300 an hour. We have a maintenance employee who happens to be certified in hazmat removal. Now, with all of the construction going on (in the district) there is many more cases. We need this individual to maintain his certification. It’s a tremendous savings to the district to keep this position in-house.”

The cost will be lowered to approximately $40 an hour for hazmat removal work. The cost for the new position will be approximately $16,000 to the district, which will be paid for by developer fees and bond money.

District staff and board members will discuss the possibility of developing a district coordinator for community and resource development at its Jan. 30 meeting. The objectives include the idea that this position would pay for itself through successful grant writing and bringing in more revenue for the district.


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