TTUSD District Update

October 2022

In this Month's Newsletter

  • A Message from the Superintendent
  • Welcome to the New Executive Director of Student Services
  • Congratulations to TTUSD Staff
  • Pathways 2026: District-Wide Strategic Planning Community Input & Online Survey
  • Safety is a Top Priority
  • Financial Transparency
  • Always Learning
  • Charter School Petition Submitted
  • Calling All Volunteers

A Message from the Superintendent

Dear TTUSD Community,

Happy Fall! As the weather turns and leaves change, I’m enjoying the seasonal transition and welcoming the cooler temperatures. I was especially grateful for rain a few weeks ago which helped dampen smoke from the Mosquito fire. I can assure you we never take the decision to cancel school lightly and prefer to keep kids in school learning. That week of smoke was filled with twice-daily meetings with Senior Meteorologists from the National Weather Service and an Air Pollution Control Specialist from the Northern Sierra Air Quality Management District to ensure we were basing decisions on as much reliable data as possible. I assure you that we’ll continue refining our decision-making process as, unfortunately, smoke days are becoming more regular. Thank you for your patience and understanding as we navigate this unfortunate new normal.

On a brighter note, our Trustees passed a resolution at the September 7th board meeting to recognize September 15 - October 15 as National Hispanic Heritage Month. It’s a time to celebrate the histories, cultures, and contributions of those whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. We have some amazing peer-to-peer groups throughout the district that honor Hispanic heritage all year long. One of those is the La Raza club at Truckee High School. It’s an inspiring group of 25 members celebrating Hispanic backgrounds to bring awareness of their cultures by creating fun and engaging posters and displays. The club is open to all THS students interested in sharing their stories, and throughout October, their annual Day of the Dead altar will be on display in the school’s west wing.

I’d additionally like to note that below you’ll find information on the kick-off of phase two in our Pathways 2026 Strategic Plan. Please take the survey, attend one of the community input sessions and join us in this important process. Your feedback and collaboration are always greatly appreciated! We’ll continue to keep you informed over the next few months as we work through the remaining phases.

Carmen Ghysels

Superintendent Chief Learning Officer

Big picture

Welcome to the New Executive Director of Student Services

We are thrilled to announce the addition of Annamarie Cohen, Ph.D., to the TTUSD team as the new Executive Director of Student Services. Dr. Cohen brings 26 years of experience to the district and will oversee Special Education, Early Learning, Nursing Services, Health and Wellness, Attendance, and Discipline. She most recently served as the Associate Superintendent of Educational Services for the Lake Tahoe Unified School District in South Lake Tahoe, where she led special education services at the district and Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA) levels, along with social-emotional, mental, and behavioral health initiatives. Dr. Cohen also taught special education in TTUSD schools for over 17 years, so join us in welcoming her back into our community!

Congratulations to TTUSD Staff

We're so proud of all the outstanding staff at TTUSD! A few exciting promotions and impressive awards have been granted within the last few months. Please join us in congratulating all those listed below and make sure to thank them for all their hard work!


Todd Rivera, our Executive Director of Business Services, has been promoted to Assistant Superintendent Chief Business Officer. Todd has served the TTUSD district for 17 years in several roles. The board recently praised him for always providing clarity and transparency when presenting TTUSD’s financial health.

Rob Koster has been named the new Director of Facilities Maintenance and Operations. Rob started with the District in 1999 as a project manager for the Measure C GO Bond Facilities Program and has since overseen and managed every major (and minor) capital improvement and construction project in our Truckee Area Schools. Rob brings with him a wealth of facilities and TTUSD knowledge!

Angie Morales-White has been promoted to Director of Fiscal Services after multiple roles within the district, most recently as the Coordinator of Fiscal Services. She has continued to demonstrate an outstanding job supporting staff and students and ensuring the District's fiscal health.

Romina Branje is moving from our Food & Nutrition Administrative Secretary to the Food & Nutrition Operations Manager, where she’ll be applying her talents to supporting all school site kitchens and ensuring smooth operations along with delicious and nutritious meals for TTUSD students.

Excellence in Education Awards Highlight TTUSD Superstars!

Congrats to all of our 2022-2023 Linda Brown Fellows and Stars!

On August 24, Excellence in Education celebrated exceptional teachers and classified employees who positively impact students’ lives by providing outstanding educational experiences and support.

Linda Brown Fellows recipients were Brandy Flesock, Glenshire Elementary; Beth Nordby, Tahoe Lake Elementary; Betsy DePew, Truckee Elementary; Zan Larkins, Nurse for Alder Creek Middle and Truckee High Schools; and Kelsee Bensley, Tahoe Lake Elementary. Each received $1,000 for personal use and a $2,000 grant to enhance their classroom or school.

Star Award recipients were Ignacio “Nacho” Garcia, Transportation; Kim Bradley, TTUSD Wellness; Romina Branje, Food Services; and Andrea Fernandez Landa, Translations and Bilingual Community Services. Each was awarded $1,000 for personal use.

Linda Brown Fellows
Star Awards Recipients

Pathways 2026: District-Wide Strategic Planning Community Input & Online Survey

TTUSD is in the process of updating its long-term strategic plan, and we want your input! This October, you’ll have multiple forums to share what you value most about our schools and to help identify areas in which we might improve.

The long-term strategic planning process is essential for several reasons. Once adopted by our Board of Trustees, it will help to focus our time and resources over the next several years. We hope that every community member will contribute ideas in one or both of the following ways. To share your thoughts about what might be next for TTUSD, please:

1. Complete our new 10-question online survey anytime between now and October 30th:

2. Join us for one of two in-person community meetings
on the following dates to hear from Superintendent Ghysels about the planning process and to share your ideas. Light refreshments will be served, and Spanish interpretation will be available.

  • Oct. 24 | 5:30 - 7:00 pm at TTUSD District Office Board Room

  • Oct. 26 | 5:30 - 7:00 pm at Kings Beach Elementary School Cafeteria

Thank you for your participation and support of this critical process.

Safety is a Top Priority

TTUSD is dedicated to providing a safe and supportive learning environment where students can thrive and grow. We utilize a multi-pronged approach, including staff and student trainings, abiding by CA Education Code safety protocols, and offering wellness resources to students at all levels.

This month we’d like to share a few trainings we regularly conduct to keep safety top of mind for students and staff.


We strongly believe preparing staff and students for potential active shooters on campus is critical. TTUSD has adopted and implemented a comprehensive, options-based training program called ALICE which stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate. ALICE embraces active decision-making by staff and older students to address an armed intruder, including an active shooter situation or threatening scenario. Training takes place annually using age-appropriate materials, and each site conducts drills throughout the school year.

The Great Shakeout

On Thursday, October 20th, at 10:20 am, all TTUSD schools will participate in the Great California Shakeout. It’s an annual initiative to encourage Californians to practice being safer during earthquakes by conducting drills and updating emergency preparedness plans and supplies. Administrators and students will get hands-on practice with the Drop, Cover, and Hold On drill - a practice that is imperative in responding appropriately in an emergency.

Financial Transparency

Did you know property taxes are the primary revenue source for TTUSD? Since we’re a Community Funded District, otherwise known as a Basic Aid District, we believe it’s important to be fiscally transparent with you, our funders. So as we begin the second quarter of the fiscal year, here’s a quick snapshot of where we’re sitting financially.

At the June 21, 2022, board meeting, the district adopted a proposed 2022-2023 budget. Since that meeting, some of the estimated revenues have been actualized and came in higher than initially projected. We estimated a 5.66% increase in property taxes; however, the Assessors’ Tax Rolls were unusually high at 9.51%, equating to approximately $2.3 million in additional property tax revenue. This, combined with new ongoing State revenues and staffing and support expenditures added after the budget adoption, leaves a positive Unrestricted General Fund Balance of $3.08 Million. Full details can be found in our 45-Day Budget Revision Presentation.

TTUSD will now focus on recommendations to the board for the most efficient and appropriate ways to utilize these funds to both support our programs and personnel and to make sure TTUSD has a healthy reserve to ensure fiscal stability in the future.

Always Learning

Our TTUSD teachers are always learning too!

This year marks the second year of a district-wide LETRS (Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling) training program for all elementary teachers. This professional development, which explores the brain science behind reading, enhances the skills needed to master the fundamentals of reading instruction, including phonological awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, comprehension, writing, and language.

Thanks to our teachers for engaging in this critical learning experience to ensure all TTUSD scholars are reading at grade level!

Charter School Petition Submitted

Riversage School has submitted a charter petition to TTUSD to form a new independent charter school located on the Golden Valley Tahoe charter school site, which closed in March 2022 due to under-enrolment and a financial deficit. According to the petition, Riversage plans to utilize the Little Gems of the Sierra preschool nonprofit board as its governing board and intends to enroll approximately 240 students, grades TK through eighth, within five years of opening. They plan to align their curriculum with the Waldorf Educational Approach and utilize the same principal from Golden Valley.

According to the Charter Schools Act of 1992, TTUSD is required to analyze the petition utilizing outlined criteria and then grant or deny it based on whether it meets legal requirements.

You’re invited to join this process by attending a public hearing on November 2, 2022. After a brief presentation from Riversage School, the board will hear public comments from TTUSD teachers, employees, and families. Following that informational hearing, TTUSD will publish findings and recommendations on November 13, 2022, on Based on that information, the board will vote on whether to grant or deny the petition at the November 28, 2022, board meeting.

Calling all TTUSD Volunteers!

Our volunteer process is open, and we’re working to clear volunteers as quickly as possible. We can’t thank you enough for offering your time to help enhance our TTUSD learning experience and for cooperating in the volunteer clearance process. An email went out in September with details, but you can find step-by-step instructions on the Volunteer page on

And as always, we’re here to help! If you need assistance or have questions, please contact our HR department (, and we’ll help you through the process.