My Turn: District budget issue must be solved

Syd Earley
Tahoe City

Going to Truckee for school is a definite possibility for lakeside families if we do not act responsibly now.

At the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District Budget Workshop meeting on June 2, it was very evident the financial future this school district is facing due to the economic collapse of the State of California and the threat of losing our Basic Aid monies.

Our district CFO Steve Dickenson stated an additional need of a $2.6 million cut from the budget and a possible worst-case scenario of a $9 million dollar shortfall in place of the initial $4.3 million that may come about over the summer with more information and reductions from the State.

I have been self-employed for 26 years and usually run 30 to 60 days out on my invoices. A small business has the ability to modify spending according to day to day operations. With the Union suing for every infraction, teacher’s contracts and children enrolled it is not possible for this district to react with the same swiftness.

Our budget must be a preventative and anticipatory action. As our personal finances have been forced to align in this recession and with the rest of the nation’s economy falling apart around us we have to get smaller. We cannot expand, we have to conserve and be very careful about our next steps. There are a few school districts in Northern California who have already declared bankruptcy. I don’t know the full consequences of that for a District but it can’t result in anything good for our children’s education.

I believe that if we do not consider some drastic moves sooner rather than later our Lakeside Schools face complete closure. This not only affects our children but the community as a whole. We cannot afford a new and#8220;educational model,and#8221; we cannot afford new curriculum or afford any new acronyms.

We cannot afford a Magnet School at Kings Beach that the only opportunity to enroll is Kindergarten and First Grade and suffers from attrition, we cannot afford bus transportation to schools any longer and we cannot afford high administrative costs. We do not have the money!

We must consider a K-12 at the North Tahoe middle school and high school campus with one educational model. Whether that is an English Mainstream or a TWI program or a combination of both we have to choose.

With Basic Aid threatened and drastically reduced funds from the State we cannot afford the choice in education any longer. We need Steve Dickenson to sit in a room full of principals who have already proven their ability in providing a strong educational program and tell us how we can keep our Lakeside Schools operating or we need to look strongly at privatizing our children’s education.

Our School Board must act now to balance this budget; they must be fiscally responsible now because we cannot back into the loss. If we do not move quickly I believe our schools will face closure in the near future and that means us not Truckee. The impact of our schools closing will be far more reaching that just the inconvenience of a daily commute to school, it will destroy Tahoe City and Kings Beach’s businesses and family community.

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