State needs to hear from Tahoe-Truckee parents |

State needs to hear from Tahoe-Truckee parents

In the midst of the Tahoe-Truckee Unified School District’s fiscal crisis, sticking out like a sore thumb is how the state of California’s actions have desperately impacted our school district, and thus our children’s education.

The school district is trying to get the state Department of Finance to declare our district a declining enrollment district, which would free up $383,800 for student education. District administrators are also trying to get the state Department of Finance to refund $180,000 in costs that the TTUSD expected to be reimbursed for mandated state programs, but which the state said were not eligible.

These are pieces of the budgetary pie that took a bite out of our school district’s financial health this year.

There are also long-term changes at the state level that could greatly help our school district be more on par with other districts around the state in terms of state spending.

There are few school districts in the state that have to fork out $250,000 for snow removal, like the TTUSD did last year. When the state gives funding to a school district in the Bay Area, that district can spend the money on children’s education. In the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District, a big chunk of our funding must go toward snow removal and transporting children on mountainous roads.

These are aspects that keep TTUSD from being equal to other districts around the state.

The state of California needs to promptly address these issues which have so drastically impacted our school district. Fortunately, state Assemblyman Thomas “Rico” Oller has extended an offer of help to the parents, staff and community in the financially troubled TTUSD.

He has promised to fight on the school district’s side at the state level by talking with the state Department of Finance about reimbursing the mandated costs and declaring TTUSD a declining enrollment district.

Enrollment in the district dropped from 5,100 last year to 4,977. It seems obvious that the enrollment has declined. But, the state Department of Finance includes the 200 students of the Prosser Creek Charter School in the overall enrollment. This is unfair because all but 81 of the charter school’s students are from out of the school district. Even if those 81 students are included in TTUSD enrollment, the district still has declining enrollment.

This is so important because the state funds school districts on their present enrollment or, if it is a declining enrollment district, on the enrollment last year so districts can have a year to prepare for less income. That year of preparation was not given to TTUSD, leaving it in a crunch to pay teachers already hired for the projected enrollment.

The Republican assemblyman has also said he would introduce legislation to help school districts that are impacted by the huge costs of snow removal.

If accomplished, these efforts would greatly help our school district’s finances without affecting the quality of education for our children. Among all the options being considered to erase the spector of bankruptcy, these legislative and political solutions are more palatable than firing teachers or closing schools.

But Rico Oller needs our help to be truly effective.

Letters from parents and community members to Oller and Sen. Tim Leslie expressing concern over the declining enrollment issue would build our representatives’ arsenal in their talks with state government and the legislature. Write as soon as possible to Hon. Thomas Rico Oller, State Capital, Sacramento, CA 95814; Hon. Tim Leslie, State Capital, Sacramento, CA 95814; Hon. Bernie Richter, State Capital, Sacramento, Calif., 95814 (Nevada County residents).

The state needs to know that the consequences of its actions are affecting children in classrooms.

– Tahoe World

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