No Pink Slips For Natomas Schools

While thousands of teachers and school employees across Californiaare receiving layoff notices this week, the Natomas Unified School District is being spared that pain in the budget package approved Wednesday by its board of trustees.

The plan that trustees adopted saves employees from layoffs for 2008-09 but also preserves learning programs and allows for opening the new H. Allen Hight Elementary School this August.

This budget package includes nearly $3.8 million in budget adjustments in response to a proposal by Governor Schwarzenegger to make the largest financial cuts to education in the history of California.

The plan is a bold one because the required three-year budget being submitted this week to the Sacramento County Office of Education does not include a mandated 3 percent reserve through 2010.

The decision by trustees to submit a “qualified” Second Interim Budget Report is meant to send a signal to the Natomas community, the Governor and the State Legislature that it is unacceptable to balance the state budget by taking from children.

While the district is relieved for now to be avoiding layoffs and massive program cuts, officials say they we are also mindful they potentially face another round of budget reductions in the $2.5 million range in the coming months as the state moves toward adoption of its final budget for 2008-09.

Here is how our package of budget adjustments stands for now:

  • Delay hiring H. Allen Hight Middle School principal, counselor and secretary from 2008-09 to 2009-10, $263,193.
  • Postpone opening H. Allen Hight Middle School an additional year (2009-10), $1,024,120.
  • Forgo for one year the District’s annual contribution to a special reserve fund for retiree benefits, $638,000.
  • Shift the costs of the Facilities and Planning Department from the general fund to Measure D & M bond funds, $380,000.
  • Reduce Education Center expenses for professional consultants, legal fees, materials, supplies (excludes schools), travel, conferences, dues and memberships, $516,663.
  • Offer school board agendas and meeting packets entirely online instead of distributing paper materials, $12,000.
  • Improve the verification process for free- and reduced-price bus transportation, $50,000.
  • Adjustments in food service operations including opening a Senior Café at Natomas High School and an ASB cart at Inderkum High, $61,000
  • Tighter control of use of substitutes, $15,000.
  • Revise how the independent-study program is operated so that it becomes self-supporting, $88,859.
  • Restructure operations of the Opportunity Program, $100,000.
  • Remove unspent allocation for crossing guards $100,000.
  • Teacher attrition of nine positions in grades 4-12, $500,000
  • Increase facility user fees, $100,000.

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