Board of Trustees votes to cut release periods and TEAM

On Tuesday, Apr. 28, the Tamalpais Union High District (TUHSD) Board of Trustees made the final vote to cut release periods across the district, the TEAM program, and the teacher leadership program. 

As a result of the failure of Measure B — a parcel tax to provide funds for students in the Tam District — TUHSD board members faced the challenge of making drastic budget cuts. 

According to Tara Taupier, the TUHSD superintendent, the state of California recommends a minimum reserve level of 17%. A reserve level is the amount of something, money in this case, set aside for future use. Taupier stated that reasonable reserves are designed for situations like the COVID-19 pandemic. “It buys you time to make informed decisions,” Taupier said. 

By the end of this 2019-2020 school year, Tam District will have hit its 17% reserve level. Without a renewed parcel tax, combined with a projected economic downturn, the district needed to cut some school programs. It first looked to cut release periods for teachers, the TEAM program, and the teacher leadership program. 

The Board of Trustees claimed that by cutting release periods for journalism and leadership advisers, instructional coaches, and global studies teachers, the district would save $210,000 in the upcoming 2020-2021 school year and $450,000 in the years following. Temporarily suspending the TEAM program would save $230,000 per year it’s suspended. Lastly, suspension of the teacher leadership program would save $724,000 per year of its suspension. Altogether, these cuts result in just over $1.2 million reserved by the district for next year. 

The Board of Trustees’ goal was to reduce district expenditures by $1.1 million. In this case, by the 2023-2024 school year, the district will still have 13% of its reserves. Before budget cuts, the reserve levels for 2023-2024 would be at about 8.6%. 

Board of Trustees member Cynthia Roenisch believes it is irresponsible to let reserves for a basic-aid district like TUHSD to hit 5-7%. She claims that it doesn’t allow much of a margin for adapting to a crisis. 

The evening of Tuesday, Apr. 28, many students, parents, and alumni spoke passionately about the life-changing journalism and TEAM programs. Even with such zealous arguments, the district made the choice to cut release periods, TEAM, and the teacher leadership program.  

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