School board to consider staffing recommendations |

School board to consider staffing recommendations

William Ferchland

Nine recommendations on the employment structure and two subsequent analyses on whether the recommendations should be implemented will be addressed by the Lake Tahoe Unified School District school board during a meeting tonight.

Last month, findings on how the district, which has struggled financially from declining enrollment by cutting programs and letting teachers go, can be more efficient on staffing was presented by Theresa Ryland, the district’s financial consultant.

Administration and a finance committee consisting mostly of professionals took a month to digest the recommendations.

Board President Wendy David was glad the recommendations were distilled by both administrators and community members.

“I think this will give us a greater basis for considering a decision,” David said.

The Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team, which looked at everything from the age of the district’s buses to enrollment projections, visited the district in April. The findings were presented by Ryland on Aug. 23.

The recommendations focused on the positions of director of facilities, assistant superintendent of instruction and the chief financial officer. The assistant superintendent and chief financial officer positions are vacant from resignations during the summer, which provides the district with a unique opportunity to examine staffing.

“You have two positions at the district office that you can do some interim approaches with which might be creative and can be creative because this district is still not out of the woods from declining enrollment,” Tarwater said. “It puts all your resources at school sites, financially, and that’s where you want (them) because that’s where the kids are.”

Tarwater is handling the chief financial officer duties but the district is using Ryland’s services when needed. The job may be filled next school year. Spring is often the hiring season for school administrators while the district would have a better idea on enrollment at that time.

Chris Campion, a leading member of the superintendent’s finance committee, said the group was worried Tarwater is “wearing too many hats” by being the superintendent, chief financial officer, co-principal of the newly formed Lake Tahoe Environmental Science Magnet School and assistant superintendent.

The committee recommended hiring a chief financial officer down the line but agreed Ryland is a good short-term solution.

Regarding the assistant superintendent position, which was vacated after Barbara Davis left for a similar position in Southern California, the team recommended it be lowered to a coordinator position supervised by Tarwater.

In its response, the district’s administration stated it will “monitor enrollment for the 2005-06 school year and develop a revised organizational structure and system that will maintain accountability and performance.”

The finance committee had a more specific idea of two principals becoming a director of elementary education while the other is the director of secondary education.

“Care must be taken not to severely impact the administrator’s primary site responsibilities,” a letter from the group stated. “Increased reliance must be placed on lead teachers and assistant principals. Commensurate compensation for these dual responsibility positions would be offered However, the net would be a significant savings to the district from the elimination of the assistant superintendent position.”

Tarwater likes the idea.

“When you’re a site principal you’re in the trenches,” he said. “You know what those teachers need.”

The assessment team at first recommended eliminating the director of facilities position, held by Steve Morales, but recanted after discovering no one else in the district had the skills or knowledge comparable to Morales.

Other recommendations pertained to decreasing or consolidating positions when needed, the need for long-range planning and constantly communicating the district’s direction and structure.

Other meeting agenda items include:

— A report by Sierra House Principal Jim Watson on the programs at the elementary school.

What: Lake Tahoe Unified School District Board of Education meeting

When: 6 p.m.

Where: Sierra House Elementary School, 1709 Remington Trail

Why: Board will hear findings from district administration and the superintendent’s finance committee on recommendations on staffing from the Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team

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