Teachers’ salaries the wild card in budget | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Teachers’ salaries the wild card in budget

Mike Pottage

The South Lake Tahoe Unified School District expects to spend $30.7 million in fiscal 1998-99. Approximately $900,000 will be taken from reserves to balance the financial plan.

One question mark remains. How much will the salary negotiations with teachers cost the district? Talks so far have been fruitless, and a mediator now has the issue of wages and benefits.

The budget, adopted by the governing Board Tuesday evening, accounts for teacher wage hikes based upon a 4.55 percent increased offered by the district over and above the normal advancement on the salary schedule.

This translates into a $14,871,933 expenditure on teacher salaries during the next school year. The district will spend another $4,709,938 on classified wages, and $4,985,335 on employee benefits.

Overall, wage and benefit packages claim 80 percent of the district’s $30.7 million spending program, leaving about $6.1 million for materials, supplies, textbooks, equipment, transportation, insurance, utilities, contracts and general district operations.

The budget statistics profile what the Governing Board and superintendent anticipate will occur during the next school year.

For instance, California spends extra money to South Lake Tahoe Unified to reduce class sizes in grades one through three. As a result of that additional $818 per child, 1,860 elementary students will attend classes that have one teacher available for every 20 children. The rest of the district’s students will attend classes with a teacher to student ratio in excess of one to 30.

The district anticipates it will have fewer students next fall. Average daily attendance, which brings Tahoe Unified $5,157 per student, should reach 5,383 next year. That will be a decline from 5,703 students per day in 1997-98, and represent the third year in a row the district has downsized.

With 320 certificated teachers, administrators and counselors, plus 240 classified staff, the district will have a student-to-staff ratio of approximately 10-to-1. Enrollment projection, at 5,862 students, differs from actual daily attendance figures.

Income next year should be $30.3 million, according to the adopted budget. Property taxes provide about $6.5 million or 21.3 percent of the school income. Federal support is at $1.2 million in eight special categories. The bulk of South Lake Tahoe Unified’s income comes from state apportionments.

The district has $3.4 million in reserve, and the money is invested by the County Treasurer, and currently is earning about 5 percent interest.

Tahoe Daily Tribune E-mail: tribune@tahoe.com

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