School district will fine tune budget | TahoeDailyTribune.com

School district will fine tune budget

William Ferchland, Tahoe Daily Tribune

In February, Lake Tahoe Unified School District announced $2.7 million in cuts. Tuesday’s board meeting may find ways to get some money back.

Fee increases for bus rides, facility usage and school lunches are included in a lengthy board packet which also addresses a proposed principal-sharing plan, athletic contract and search for a high school principal.

The board will also vote on adopting the recommendation from an administrative law judge to dismiss 20 teachers.

The packet, with nine reports and 13 discussion and action items, is likely the longest this year.

“We’re now coming to the stage where we’re going to make a lot of decisions; because of that it’s going to be a doozy of a meeting,” said board member Wendy David.

Once provided free rides, students who take the bus to and from school will have to show a pass when boarding next school year if a plan to institute a pay-to-ride program is approved.

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The proposed price would cost one student $100 for a daily round-trip pass per year. A semester costs $55 per student. Those who qualify for the free or reduced lunch program would pay a maximum of $44 for an annual pass.

Families with more than one child who takes the bus will have reduced rates. A discount of 10 percent will be applied to purchases before Aug. 30.

A comparison of several relatively nearby school districts, such as Rocklin, which sells an annual pass for $180, showed LTUSD’s proposed rates were the cheapest.

Cost increases in fuel, maintenance, employees and a loss of state funding were cited as reasons to institute the program, district officials said.

Last year district buses transported an average of 2,962 K-12 students daily, according to documents.

In addition, board members will vote on a proposal to increase school lunch fees. If passed, meals for middle and high school students will increase 50 cents. Elementary meals will go up a quarter.

According to a cafeteria profit and loss report, five out of the seven district schools made a profit from food sales from July 2002 to March 2003. Bijou Community School made a $54,000 profit while Meyers Elementary lost $9,000.

The administration, on the other hand, lost $165,000 during that same period. The amount includes $70,000 that goes to the general fund and $74,000 that includes labor, said Shelley Giannotta, director of child nutrition and purchasing.

In total, the district lost $52,000 from July 2002 to March 2003 from the school meal program.

Last year the self-supporting program made $33,000.

“Historically we do pay for ourselves and we’re hoping we’ll end up with a small amount of profit at the end of the year,” Giannotta said, noting that the program can draw upon its own reserve.

Lastly, an increase in facility use fees will be discussed and voted upon. Facilities include classrooms, gymnasiums, parking lots, district board room and ballfields.

Rates differ for nonprofit and profit organizations. No charges will be applied if the organization’s use is school-related, tied to the district, or is associated with a health and safety issue.

Back to the future

A principal-sharing plan will be considered for one of the administrative position changes for next year, even though several board members, including President Lennie Schwartz, seemed reluctant to vote for the plan at a May 2 meeting.

The plan would transfer one elementary principal to the district office while another assumes duties of two elementary schools. It’s one of several ideas, including not filling a retired high school counselor position, to cut a $90,000 administrative position.

Other items include:

n Adoption of a county resolution to provide education to expelled students. n Configuration of a meeting schedule to address district issues such as creating alternative education sources and a possible school closure.

n A vote for a new South Tahoe High School athletic contract.

n A report from a committee wanting to replace the track at South Tahoe Middle School.

n An update on the South Tahoe High School principal hiring process and interviews for a district chief financial officer. Diane Head is filling the position on an interim basis.

— E-mail William Ferchland at wferchland@tahoedailytribune.com

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