I read the My Turn column by Cindy Gustafson (“Two sides to teacher pay story” Sierra Sun May 25) and was overwhelmed with a single impression. Implicit within Ms. Gustafson’s argument is that by asking for a reasonable salary increase, teachers are not acting in the best interests of students.
Indeed, how else can one interpret Ms. Gustafson’s statement that “the only way for us to address these critical issues is to work together, using the facts to make the best possible choices for our children.”
Through that single statement, Ms. Gustafson not only suggests that teachers are not using facts in support of their campaign for a fair salary increase, but she also implies that teachers are acting against the needs and interests of their own students.
Ms. Gustafson is flat wrong. This is not a zero sum gain, where more money for teachers necessarily means less for students. There are ways to ensure that finally treating teachers with respect doesn’t mean disrespecting students and programs that support their learning.
Teachers have been asking, almost pleading, for the last three years for fair and reasonable pay to perform a job that all would agree is critical to our community. In fact, teacher’s salaries have not kept pace with cost of living adjustments over the last few years, and for this reason, teachers have effectively suffered a pay reduction. Moreover, teachers have been asking, almost pleading, for the last three years to be treated respectfully by the school district in resolving their differences at the negotiation table in a timely manner only to be met with delay and excuses.
Teachers deserve better. They deserve to have the school district not only talk the talk regarding valuing teachers, but walk the walk with respect to paying teachers what they reasonably deserve and what they have reasonably demanded. At the end of the day, it is a question of values. Will the school district finally take affirmative steps to value its teachers by fairly and reasonably negotiating a salary increase or will it continue its tactics of delay and obstruction? Only time will tell, but one thing is certain ” the community is watching.
Dennis Williams, the current superintendent of schools, is personally recommending to the Tahoe Truckee School Board that Donner Trail School be closed. He stated the closure is due to financial need. He has made his recommendation alone and against the implicit wishes of the district’s budget review committee. It is a completely politically motivated decision on Williams’ part. There are absolutely no compelling arguments financial or otherwise to support closure of the school. In fact the district can not even produce a hard number regarding the savings to the district as a result of closing the school.
Among other things it is important to note that Donner Trail is the highest testing school in the district and the academic and cultural benchmark the rest of the district aspires to. This is no longer singularly a Donner Trail issue. We are making a very clear case that Dennis Williams is blatantly acting in own self interest and completely disregarding the educational needs of the entire community.
Williams’ history with the charter school, last years “hurry-up” budget crisis and now the last-minute Donner Trail closure paint a very consistent pattern of behavior.
We are telling a single story. Dennis Williams perceives himself to be accountable to no one and everyone’s children are at risk. The community has twice recalled the entire school board. There is every reason to believe we will be successful a third time.
Kari and Bill Sinoff
What happened to educational excellence? I was surprised last week while attending a meeting where the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District superintendent spoke. The meeting was to hear about his recommendation to close the elementary school in my neighborhood. I expected a recommendation based on community input, communication, budget committee review, and detailed analysis. I was sorely disappointed.
What we heard was that a committee, with community members, had met to make recommendations on budget cuts. They were given a clear dollar target by the superintendent that they exceeded, and their list did not include this school closure. Literally days before the school board is to vote on next years’ budget the superintendent added the school closure to the list for budget cuts unilaterally ” his only addition to the list. -We heard no reason that the committee was not asked for additional recommendations, and that a year from now the superintendent has plans for a “vision” to be created to deal with issues like locally based schools versus larger schools (“Costco/Wal-Mart Schools,” my words).
Don’t we have the cart before the horse? Why close a school with the highest academic performance in the district before we understand the direction for the district and its vision? If there is a “private” vision it deserves discussion, not a single meeting at the last minute. The closure recommended hasn’t included review of all the options, and tradeoffs, nor any quality of education discussion on the issues only large schools would create.
My children are grown, but I feel we must look at the quality of education we offer and not close the best academic performers. We all need to contact the school board and ask them not to accept the recommendation on closing Donner Trail Elementary School without first having a vision for our community. Ask them to postpone this decision, and ask why close the model of educational success for our children. Ask why this is happening without community input when the possible savings represents less than one-third of 1 percent of the district’s annual budget?
A meeting was held at the Donner Trail Elementary School last week. It was a packed house. The topic was about closing its doors. About 200 concerned parents, teachers, students, and concerned citizens. A special meeting of the board will be held in Truckee on Wednesday June 1, at 6 p.m. I hope that the board will listen attentively to the issues of concerned parents and citizens and then vote “no” (to closing), to keep Donner Trail school open. Soda Springs is a thriving community. Our school is providing excellent education. Donner Trail School is the heart of our community.
John M. Kirrere
Saturday, June 4, is the second annual Truckee (cleanup) Day. This year Martis Creek Lake Recreation Area is going to be included in the event. As all Martis users are aware, there is a lot to clean up along the roads and trails of Martis. Unfortunately, the users are not always the ones who show up to cleanup events.
There is a great core group of volunteers who show up for many of the volunteer events that we have at Martis, a few that come to mind are Barbara Green, Ellie Hyatt, Jeanette and Andrew Terry and Earl Smith. I appreciate you all for being here for the fun and the unpleasant chores that need to be accomplished to keep Martis a great place to recreate.
If a little larger percentage of the hundreds that walk their dogs here regularly could get on board, Martis could be a place that no longer inspires letters to the editor about how much dog waste is along the roads and trails. So all Martis users, please put Saturday, June 4, on your calendars as a day to contribute to the area that gives so much to us. It’s only from 9 a.m. to noon, and afterward you can go party with the community at Truckee River Regional Park.
Martis Valley’s check in station is at the Porter Law Offices on Airport Road, the Martis table will be the one with Councilwoman Barbara Green waiting to sign you up.
Thanks to Maia Schneider for including Martis in this year’s event, and for all her unending efforts to make Truckee Day a huge success and a fun day for the entire community. Everyone come to Truckee Day!
Martis Creek Lake