Readers write: We need a teachers agreement |

Readers write: We need a teachers agreement

Syd Earley
Parent, Tahoe Lake School
and North Tahoe Middle

We have started yet another controversial and unsatisfactory school year in the Tahoe Truckee School District.

I can’t use the word “Unified” to describe our District because it is so splintered and broken. With the premise of “declining enrollment” the school board last year hired a consultant, formed a committee and after several group and community meetings decided in spite of majority public opinion to go forward with their personal agenda of advancing the Immersion Program at Kings Beach.

Realizing they did not have room or teachers at Kings Beach for the third strand, they had approved last year they went ahead and accepted all recommendations from TTRAC, which meant starting a fourth strand of Immersion this fall.

The consequence of this decision as voted by the TTRAC committee will be that fourth- and fifth-graders not involved in the Immersion Program will be forced to attend North Tahoe Middle School or Rideout for those school years.

As anyone knows who has been to Rideout lately the TCPUD has fully embraced and is entrenched in the site. Rideout would also be a very long bus ride for the non-immersion fourth- and fifth-graders from Kings Beach.

That leaves North Tahoe Middle School for my soon to be fourth-grader. Although I feel fully confident in Teresa Rensch as a principal for NTMS and believe she could handle almost all educational situations, common sense tells me 9 years old is too soon to end the elementary school experience.

The consequence of this decision deeply affects all families not involved in the Immersion Program and forces me to distrust our School Board.

The contention this year is no contract for the teachers. Due to this decision, the children at Tahoe Lake are greeted with empty bulletin boards and hallways as they walk through their school because teachers cannot work outside contract hours.

More distressing is all field trips, outside of contract hours, are canceled for the 2008-09 school year.

There will be no trips to Coloma, the State Capital, Pidgeon Point, Marin Headlands or any other curriculum based field trip that goes past school hours.

There will be no Mono Lake, Sagehen or Catalina filed trips for NTMS. These trips are funded by parents, PTO and VIPS not the District. All the teachers I have spoken to are deeply conflicted by this situation but really have no choice. An effort to reinstate extended day field trips will be considered when a settlement for both the 2007-08 year and the current school year is reached.

At that time teachers will be able to afford the volunteer time for such endeavors. The classroom teacher is the most important person in the room and must be supported.

The School Board hired a consultant to head hunt for a new superintendent, and last spring hired Steve Jennings. Although congenial and comes with a strong resume our administration costs in this District continue to go up yearly.

According to information from the Teacher’s Union our Administration costs have increased $475,000 from three years ago.

More disturbing is the fourth and fifth grades at Tahoe Lake and most other elementary schools do not have workbooks for Language Arts or Math. The teachers of these classes do not have the basic tools to teach these subjects. How can this happen in the 12th richest district in the state?

Maybe the school board should hire a “curriculum consultant,” or maybe the teachers should have just been asked what they needed to begin the school year and provided the basics.

We will continue to lose good teachers and families that we cannot afford to lose and our children will continue to pay the consequence of this School Boards inability to reach a contract with our teachers.

It is very difficult to continue to volunteer and support such a broken system. I am urging the School Board to offer the teachers something fair to work for and come to an agreement.

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