TAHOE/TRUCKEE — Dear TTUSD Families,
As summer comes to a close, I have difficulty believing that I am writing my first “welcome” letter as the Superintendent-Chief Learning Officer of the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District. The amazing spring we experienced together transformed into a wonderful summer, and I hope all of you have been enjoying the incredible Tahoe Truckee region with opportunities to continue to learn, rest, recharge, and recreate in our glorious surroundings. Many of our students have participated in summer learning programs, and I know all will come to school ready to learn on Aug. 29.
One of the highlights of my summer was attending the National Civic League Conference where Tahoe Truckee was recognized as one of 14 communities in the nation as an All-America City. The program focus for this distinguished designation is the campaign to ensure all students are reading at grade level by the end of third grade. Thanks to a community effort led by the Excellence in Education Foundation, a plan was developed for our entire community to address this critical area including many opportunities to avoid summer learning loss. This designation is a reflection of the caring and commitment of our entire community to ensure that all of our students are successful.
The All-America City plan to address grade level reading also includes two other critical areas: school readiness and chronic absences. We have new plans and programs under consideration to complement the outstanding efforts already underway to help students enter school ready to learn. On the other hand, I was very surprised to learn that we have a significant school attendance problem in our district. It is critical that our students attend school every day in order to learn and be successful. Research shows that chronic absences not only affect the learning of the one student but have an impact on learning for the entire class. Please help ensure that your students attend school regularly and are absent only when absolutely necessary. Obviously, it is important to keep your child home when ill, but please try to plan vacations and other activities around scheduled school breaks.
We are excited to start with several new teachers and staff this fall, including our new principal at Tahoe Truckee High School, Greg Dettinger. All of the incoming teachers and staff will be participating in a three-day academy which will include a tour of the district offices and schools, an orientation covering procedures, budget training, and meeting with teacher mentors, coaches, and the board of trustees so they start the year with support systems in place, ready to teach.
We continue to have budget concerns including ongoing deficit spending and diminishing reserves. In June the California Legislators passed and the Governor signed the 2012-2013 state budget which is based on the assumption Governor Brown’s tax initiative will pass in November. If the initiative passes, schools will be funded at the same level as in 2010-11. If the initiative fails we have been told that trigger cuts will be implemented amounting to a $454 per student reduction. While the school district has budgeted for this reduction in 2012-13, the resulting deficit for 2013-2014 is significant and could require a $3 million reduction. The passage of the tax initiative should mean an ongoing restoration of approximately $1.7 million to our budget. On Aug. 8, the Board of Education passed a resolution supporting the November tax initiatives.
Even with the ongoing budget dilemma, my goal is that we continue to build on the momentum of last spring into a new era of possibilities for our students, staff, and the entire community. I have shared my philosophical focus on rigor, relevance, and respectful relationships, and these remain true to my core as an educator and your Chief Learning Officer. This year we will be sharing a new vision for our school district that embodies this philosophy and together we will be planning how we will build pathways to new possibilities for our students. These pathways will include how we will address the California Common Core State Standards and 21st century learning outcomes for our graduates. Together we will create pathways of possibilities that will prepare our students for college, career, and life!
I also want to reiterate my commitment to being an active, responsive, and visible part of our community. I have reserved every Wednesday morning to visit schools, be in classrooms, and visit departments. While my official “listening and learning tour” is over, I promise to continue to listen and learn by participating in school and community events and being available to each and every one of you. I also plan to schedule regular opportunities to meet with me so you may share your interests about our school district.
As I complete this message, I find myself feeling so fortunate to be a part of such a great school district and community. We truly are deserving of the title: All-America City! Welcome back and have a great school year!
— Rob Leri is Superintendent-Chief Learning Officer of the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District.