Weekly newspaper of Three Rivers, California, and Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks

TRUS board preps for 2019-2020 budget

John Elliott


There is no issue of greater importance than to how to successfully plan and budget for the education of the 129 students that attend kindergarten through eighth grade at Three Rivers Union School. A cadre of interested parents are now regular attendees of the monthly meetings and are intent on encouraging the dissemination of more information and transparency in the process. 
The TRUS board of trustees has not concealed budget decision-making in the past, but the new generation of parents wants greater access and to keep the school’s website up to date with the information. Trustee Peter Mestaz also suggested that much of the board’s housekeeping tasks be consolidated into a consent calendar and be approved all in one motion.
Mestaz said that a consent calendar could help streamline the board’s time to allow for more discussion and public comment on substantive items – budget, bond construction planning, campus safety, and other pertinent issues. This month’s regular meeting, held Wednesday, March 6, lasted three hours and still some items were tabled until April.
With so much on the monthly calendar, the board approved an additional meeting to specifically review and approve policy changes. There are 17 items that must be approved for these administrative regulations. 
The first of these additional meetings was scheduled for Wednesday, March 27, at 7:00 a.m. The public is welcome to start the day too by attending this hour-long work session of administrative review.
Here are some key takeaways from the March 6 meeting:
—The board approved a motion to receive a Low Performing Student Block Grant of $37,000. According to Sue Sherwood, TRUS superintendent, there are about 10 students that qualify for the extra help that is designed to improve the overall test scores of the district. For its part, the district will hire an instructional aide to work in key subject areas with these students with some receiving one-on-one instruction. 
—Several TRUS students who completed projects for the school Science Fair advanced to the County competition at the TCOE Planetarium in Visalia on Saturday, March 9.
—The TRUS Science Fair judging is conducted each year by National Park Service and U.S. Geological Survey scientists. This year, the judging was organized by Anne Pfaff, board trustee, who also served as one of the judges.  Jonny Nesmith, a USGS ecologist and TRUS parent who was in attendance at the meeting, suggested the board seek more ways that students could interact with local scientists.
—Dates were approved for a public hearing of the 2019-2020 budget (June 12) and final approval set for a special meeting (June 26).
—Sherwood met with an architect to draft a “hard bid” for the use of bond funding to renovate the “hexagon wing” and the “primary wing” of the school. In April, Sherwood and Lynda LeFave (TRUS business manager) will make a presentation in San Francisco at Standard & Poor’s  Financial Services, which provides credit ratings on bonds, to determine the parameters of the sale of TRUS bonds that voters approved in the 2018 election.
—Sarah Campe, TRUS parent, offered to help reorganize the School Site Council to make it more effective in its advisory capacity. Linda Warner, third-grade teacher, also offered to sit on that committee. 
Information on school board agenda items is available during office hours at TRUS or by calling (559) 561-4466.