State - INACTIVE

Salida to pick school chief tonight

SALIDA -- Twila Tosh is expected to be named as the Salida Union School District's new superintendent tonight. She has been the interim superintendent since February when Doug Baughn resigned unexpectedly.

Tosh, 50, will have to guide the district through troubled times. Salida schools have severe financial problems, caused in part by an accounting error discovered in November that left the district $760,000 short. That, plus state funding reductions forced Salida to cut its budget by $3.25 million for 2010-11.

Student enrollment has fallen steadily since 2005, which has compounded fiscal problems.

"We have lost over 500 students," Tosh told The Bee last week. She said the district expects enrollment to lose 120 students next year, reducing the schools' attendance to about 2,765 youngsters.

The funding woes and dwindling enrollment led Salida trustees in March to order closure of Perkins Elementary School, which bid goodbye to its final students this month.

The district next year will raise class sizes by about five students per teacher, reduce the number of school days by five, cut teacher salaries by 6 percent and lay off 19 teachers.

"I don't think we're through all the difficulties yet," Tosh warned. She said the district's nonteaching staff is down to "a skeleton crew."

And more staff members are leaving.

James Yardy, assistant superintendent for business and classified services, is retiring, according to an item on tonight's school board agenda.

Tosh had been the district's assistant superintendent of education and student services before taking over for Baughn. She had taught in Salida schools for 12 years, then served as a school administrator in Turlock for four years. She returned to Salida as assistant superintendent two years ago.

Details about her contract have not been released.

Salida's school board will meet at 7 p.m. in the Salida Middle School cafeteria, 5041 Toomes Road, Salida.

Bee staff writer J.N. Sbranti can be reached at jnsbranti@modbee.com or 578-2196.

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