Forum to discuss schools’ futures in South Lake Tahoe |

Forum to discuss schools’ futures in South Lake Tahoe

William Ferchland

Two roundtable discussions to address the future of Lake Tahoe Unified School District are scheduled this month at the multi-purpose room of South Tahoe Middle School.

Billed a superintendent’s roundtable series, district officials, teachers, parents and students will convene March 24 and March 31. The first roundtable will include presentations on problems and deficiencies in the district, successes, elements for good decision making and brainstorming on action plans.

The first meeting was scheduled Thursday but postponed due to a conflict with the Spring Instrumental Music Concert.

The roundtables will feed into an “education summit” scheduled for the summer.

Interim Superintendent Lorraine Garcy said the challenge is to provide educational services to a dwindling student population that is being reshaped by learners of English and teachers stressed with state and federal mandates.

“How we respond to this challenge will determine what kind of community we are and want to be,” Garcy stated. “I believe the quality of our schools defines the quality of our community. Are we up to the challenge?”

The second roundtable, on March 31, will bring back answers to questions from the previous discussion. It will focus on solutions and “prioritize concepts for implementation including identifying who, when and how we proceed,” Garcy stated.

Terry Price, the district’s political advisor, said more than 100 invitations have gone out to people to attend but anybody interested in the district is welcome.

South Lake Tahoe City Councilman Ted Long, although frustrated at the apparent lack of options for the district besides raising money, complimented LTUSD’s management and financial belt-tightening.

“We can’t have another bake sale,” Long said figuratively.

The district has been plagued with declining enrollment since the 1996-97 school year, which peaked in student population to 5,978. Since that time enrollment has dropped nearly 20 percent through this year to 4,771 students.

Since the district receives most of its funding by the state on the number of students attending classes, budget cuts have been instituted. The most recent came last month when roughly two dozen teachers were hit with job losses or a reduced workload for next school year to cover a $1.5 million deficit. Other reductions besides teachers were made by the school board as well.

Officials predict enrollment declines will continue in the upcoming years.

“Our mission is to overcome the difficult challenges we face,” Garcy said. “We need to be resourceful, creative and committed. We need to focus on finding solutions, not placing blame or shifting of responsibilities.”

– E-mail William Ferchland at

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