My Turn: Teachers could get a lump of coal in contract | SierraSun.com
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My Turn: Teachers could get a lump of coal in contract

Gina Stephens

Merry and bright? I’m not feeling it. Any person involved in education isn’t feeling it. Our community especially needs to be aware of the dismal atmosphere your educators are in now.

Less than $37,000. That’s what the Tahoe Truckee Unified School district offers a brand new teacher. It doesn’t take into account the over $350 per month medical premiums that may be deducted if a person opts for our plan. Gross starting salary: around $33,500.

Live here on that income? Not likely. Our future does not look merry and bright. Recently, one affordable housing development held an open house. Some units start at $350,000. You don’t need a math degree to see that $37,000 + $350,000 does not equal a Truckee/ Tahoe lifestyle.

Our community needs to be concerned. At the December school board meeting, teachers were out in full force because going to board meetings is one small way to actually “do” something.

Teacher after teacher got up and addressed the board, often divulging personal issues that were difficult to air publicly. At one point, teachers who are planning to retire in the next five to seven years were asked to stand. About one-third of the room did so. Who will replace them?

The tragedy is that our district has the money. We know that because we are a basic aid district.

Schools receive a certain amount of money from the state. Schools also receive money from property taxes. When schools receive more money from taxes than they do from the state, they are considered “basic aid”. Tahoe Truckee Unified’s salary schedule is at the bottom of the barrel for basic aid districts. Years ago, when we were approaching basic aid status (remember when our real estate market had us all shaking our heads saying “$650,000 for that house?”), teachers were told that salaries would be adjusted once the basic aid funding kicked in.

Well it’s here and your school staff has yet to see it. Not so for district administration ” top to bottom.

Our community needs to be concerned. At the last two school board meetings, teachers have filled the room to plead with the district administration and board members to increase our pay. We were told “it will take time”. Well, the mortgage is due tomorrow.

When our community rallies around issues, change occurs. Teachers have tried to solve this matter largely on their own. Our teachers who negotiate for us are tired. Our union reps are tired. Staff members at schools are tired. We have spent way too much time, energy and effort on the “no contract” issue. What a waste. Our efforts are better spent on your children.

Just as a developer tries to eventually wear down the resolve of those affected by his many houses, the district is trying to wear us down. We need your help. Please let the school district board and administration know your concerns. Who will be teaching our kids in the next five years? We have to adjust the wages of all educators so they can afford to live and work here.

The coal was taken away from the PUD. Please help us take away the coal from the school board.


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