The Tahoe Truckee Unified School District’s proposal to close Donner Trail School raises serious questions about the leadership of our school district. Superintendent Dennis Williams states, “We have to do everything possible to be effective with the dollars we have.” Is a district office full of bureaucrats earning six-figure-plus salaries effective use of our dollars? How does Mr. Williams justify his $145,000 annual salary? Under his and school board president Cindy Gustafson’s leadership, TTUSD has deteriorated to the point where it has been designated a “Program Improvement” district by the State of California. North Tahoe Middle School is presently undergoing intervention by the state and at least one other school will soon be subject to this intervention.
When the present-day salary expenses of the offices of superintendent, assistant superintendent, and business manager are compared to the salary expenses of these same offices back in 2002, when Ms. Gustafson took office, the increased cost to the taxpayers calculates to more than $100,000 annually. Additional positions with salaries in excess of $100,000 have been created at the district office since Ms. Gustafson’s election. Keep in mind, the district has fewer students now than it did in 2002 and some full-time teachers earn only $29,000 annually.
This past October, during the sixth week of school, the district laid-off a veteran math teacher at North Tahoe High School and disbanded his math classes, supposedly because teacher-to-student ratios were too high. Numerous students were displaced, and many ended up without a math class. The district then hired an assistant for the district’s business manager at a salary more than twice that of the laid-off teacher.
TTUSD has lost its way. The electorate must use its voice and the ballot box to get our once-fine school district back on track.
Ice Lakes Lodge is one of a handful of employers on Donner Summit and-we find the recent news that the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District superintendent intends to recommend closure of Donner Trail School very disturbing.
Recruiting long term quality personnel is very challenging in our remote area, which boasts the highest residential snowfall in the country. Having Tahoe’s top elementary school in our community has undoubtedly impacted our recruiting positively. At the moment, 75 percent of our top management either have children or intend to have children and have stated that Donner Trails School drew them to our locale.
In considering the closure of Donner Trail one must consider the impact it will have on our community’s financial viability. Donner Summit has experienced tremendous growth over the past few years. If businesses are to continue to grow and prosper they need to attract quality, long-term personnel. Donner Trail School is one of the most positive assets Donner Summit has. Closing the doors of the school you will be closing the doors of prosperity on the entire community.
We need Donner Trails School to enable us to attract year-round residents and positive business growth on Donner Summit.–
Ice Lakes Lodge
I am glad that the Sierra Sun has initiated the debate as to whether or not the Truckee-Tahoe area should co-host the Winter Olympic Games. Both the Olympics and the area have changed dramatically since 1960, so the question needs to be considered carefully.
In September 2004, The Mountain Area Preservation Foundation surveyed their members on this subject. Seventy three percent were opposed, the remainder split evenly between in favor and undecided. The three biggest concerns were traffic congestion, infrastructure that would be redundant after the games, and environmental impacts. The two most important potential positive effects were improved mass transit and affordable housing that were both permanent and sustainable.
The fact this survey differs from that done by the Truckee Donner Chamber of Commerce the previous year does not mean one or the other is wrong. It means that the entire community needs to be surveyed by a professional polling organization, to ensure that the data is accurate and representative, before any decision is made.
President, Mountain Area
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