Tahoe school district facing deep cuts | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Tahoe school district facing deep cuts

Dylan Silver

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – The Lake Tahoe Unified School District has moved to cut about $2.4 million from their 2012-2013 budget in the wake of deep state cuts to education funding.

“This is probably the worst scenario were seeing, but you’ve got to prepare for it,” said Superintendent Jim Tarwater.

With a $400,000 deficit already looming, state cuts of more than $800,000 to school transportation and the loss of a $600,000 cost of living adjustment, the district is considering instituting a number of furlough days, raising class sizes and cutting some positions. But, with a final 2012-2013 budget not due until May, many of the reductions have yet to be finalized.

“As this thing evolves, we should know the changes by May,” Tarwater said.

Though the district is looking at a potential decrease of about $1.8 million in state funding, the administration is considering cuts valued at close to $2.4 million. The extra funds will go towards the district’s transportation system, which will no longer be funded by the state, Tarwater said.

“We could lose up to 200 average daily attendance if we don’t provide transportation,” district Chief Financial Officer Debra Yates told the school board Tuesday evening, according to an email from district staff Angie Keil. “That’s a loss of over $700,000, on top of the $834,000 transportation funding reduction.”

Other proposed cuts include the implementation of three all-staff furlough days as well as the elimination of the three staff development days. The district is also offering staff incentives to retire, with benefits such as health care until 65 and a $25,000 bonus, paid over five years. For every four staff that retire, the district can eliminate one furlough day, Tarwater said. There about 26 staff members who qualify for retirement, he added.

Athletic Director Don Borges already chose to resign after his position at South Tahoe High School was cut from three periods to one period.

Another cost-saving move that the district will make is to shift staff around. The district will save $600,000 by moving three teachers from the high school and three teachers from the middle schools to the elementary schools, which have openings, Tarwater said.

On top of the known cuts, Gov. Jerry Brown is also proposing a tax increase that could make or break funding for public education. If voters do not approve Brown’s tax increase, a half percent jump in sales tax, in November, public education funding will be cut by $4.8 billion. LTUSD would be forced to absorb an additional $1.3 million in mid-year cuts.

The impact could be a school year as short as 160 days.

Since the 2008-2009 school year, the state cuts have pulled $5 million from LTUSD’s budget. District officials continue to do the best they can to avoid cutting programs that will directly impact students, Tarwater said.

“We still have programs for our kids,” he said. “The kids shouldn’t have to suffer.”

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