Teachers learn fate Tuesday
A decision whether to accept administrators’ recommendation that nearly 17 full-time teacher positions be eliminated for next school year is scheduled for Tuesday.
The Lake Tahoe Unified School District Board of Education will likely vote on the recommendation since Human Resource Director Beth Delacour must determine who will be laid off or have duties shrunk by March 15, per state law.
“We can always add back,” Delacour said. “We just can’t take away after March 15.”
A preliminary list has eight elementary teachers and one sixth-grade teacher losing their jobs. The remaining cuts deal with class sections, such as social studies, Spanish and journalism at the middle school and English, math, physical education and history at the high school.
Alternative education will also see some staff reductions in long-term independent study, the Transitional Learning Center and Mt. Tallac.
But the biggest blow is at the elementary level which will represent half of the total teacher reductions. Superintendent Jim Tarwater hopes to install all-day kindergarten next year, which, if implemented, would reduce the number of elementary teacher cuts. At a school board meeting last week he said the addition of all-day kindergarten would also help attract students to the district, which has been making staff cuts because of declining enrollment since the 2001-02 school year.
Tarwater previously said he hoped to have a decision by Tuesday on all-day kindergarten, which must be negotiated between the district and South Tahoe Educators Association. Delacour said she wasn’t optimistic about that target.
“At this point it’s not on (Tuesday’s) agenda,” she said.
Carol Murdock, president of the teachers association, believed some teachers will get their jobs back before next school year based on occurrences in the past years.
“(The district is) probably cutting more positions than they really need just to be on the safe side,” Murdock said.
In regards to the proposal of all-day kindergarten, Murdock said: “I think our bargaining team is still considering it” but wouldn’t divulge much else since it’s negotiable items are “something we don’t (discuss) in the public.”
Kindergarten teacher Denise Preston has received two layoff notices in her 7.5 years in the district. Although she does expect to get hired back, she doesn’t want to be part of the staff shakeup that occurs when staff reductions are made. She wants to stay at the Lake Tahoe Environmental Science Magnet School in Meyers.
“I think we all get a little bogged down and a little bit depressed around this time,” she said last week. “We all try to plan for our future but we don’t know what our future brings.”
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