North Tahoe schools take budget cuts to parents
TRUCKEE – Tahoe Truckee Unified School District officials estimate they must cut their general fund budget by approximately $1.5 million for the 2004-05 school year.
The cuts are needed to balance the district’s general fund – while maintaining a 3 percent reserve – and accommodate district faculty and staff contracts, said Superintendent Dennis Williams. The district’s 2003-04 budget was approximately $34 million.
The budget problems contrast sharply with the Lake Tahoe Unified School District on the South Shore, which has made $5.5 million in cuts over the past five years because of declining enrollment. This year, it will close two schools and slash programs to meet its budget.
This week, district officials presented a list of 24 items, adding up to $2.1 million in possible cuts and revenue sources, in two budget information meetings in Truckee and Tahoe City. The list was created by a budget review committee comprised of site administrators and department heads.
At the meetings, parents and teachers decried salary increases for the district’s top three administrators in the past year.
The list of suggested cuts and revenue sources run the gamut from the unemotional – reducing cell phone expenses, for example – to the sensitive – like increasing class size in middle school and high school.
The committee also suggested closing Donner Trail School, an elementary magnet program on Donner Summit that serves 60 students. The closure of Donner Trail would save the district $79,000. But because shutting down the elementary school would have a large impact on students, the budget review committee ranked the item low on its list of possible cuts.