Budgeting decisions | SierraSun.com

Budgeting decisions

The best thing about mistakes is that one can learn from them. That has us wondering why the brass at the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District didn’t learn from the melee over last year’s proposed budget cuts and this year’s attempt to trim.

A ruckus was raised about a year ago when the community got wind of the district’s ideas to balance its budget. At the core of the issue was the fact that parents and other interested parties weren’t involved in the decision-making process and possible cuts. We recognize the district’s increased efforts this year with the budget review committee, formed to help brainstorm ways to save money by trimming services and for the 2005-06 budget.

But the unilateral decision of the district’s superintendent to recommend closing Donner Trail School is reminiscent of last year’s communication breakdown. It took the community out of the process.

It so happens that Donner Trail is the top academic performer on standardized tests in the entire district. It also happens to be that the idea to save money ” about $90,000 a year out of a total budget of $33 million ” by closing Donner Trail was formulated and then floated to parents and the Donner Summit community in all of six days.

The district stuck a stick in a bee hive and had to sort out the issue at one meeting on Wednesday. The result: The school will remain open one more year before a decision on whether to close it is made.

Still, parents of Donner Trail students are angry they weren’t consulted about the future of their children while residents and businesses on Donner Summit are worried that the school ” used as a community center and recruiting tool for prospective employees with children ” is going to be shuttered after six decades.

While we believe there should be no sacred cows when it comes to administrating a school district spread over a large, mountainous region, a decision as grave as closing a school should be done with more forethought than can be afforded in six days.

What is the value ” both monetarily and common sense ” of busing students from Donner Summit to Glenshire or ” more jaw-droppingly ” to Kings Beach to attend elementary school?

By all accounts, Donner Trail is the model of success we want all our schools to attain. Parents and businesses on the summit have said they are willing to somehow provide funding to help keep the school open. They have already put their money where their mouths are by pitching in for custodial services and an educational aide at the school.

We hope residents of the summit and the school district can work together over the next 12 months and keep Donner Trail School open and successful.

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