Speak Up Now Or Forever Hold Your Peace: NUSD Officials To Revisit Community Day School Decision

Topic On School Board Meeting Set For Tonight

The controversial issue whether the Natomas Unified School District should locate a community day school on its newest K-8 campus is slated for further discussion tonight.

The board of trustees meeting 6:30 p.m. at 1901 Arena Blvd. is a follow-up to community forum held last week on the same topic. While THE BUZZ was not able to attend the proceedings, we did catch up with area residents afterward to get their feel for the meeting.

At issue is the school district’s June 18 public hearing and subsequent action to approve placing a community day school on the H. Allen Hight Learning Center campus, located on the corner of North Park Drive and East Commerce. Several Creekside, Hamptons and Natomas Park residents protested once alerted to the decision by a group of concerned parents.

A meeting between Creekside neighborhood watch leader Sean Avalos and district officials, including Superintendent Steve Farrar, led to last week’s community forum and the issue being revisited tonight by school trustees as an action item.

About 50 people attended the two-hour session last week which covered the plans to temporarily house a community day school for up to 22 students on the middle school section of Hight.

The district’s failure to notify area residents beforehand of the plan, or seek their input, appears to be the major point of contention surrounding this issue. The urgency placed on the June 18 decision also has some calling foul, saying it is “too important to be too rushed.”

Not only have neighborhood leaders voiced opposition to the plan, but sources tell THE BUZZ that the Natomas teacher’s union will speak against the move tonight. More than one school board member has said those opposed to a community day school program at Hight should plan to comment at the meeting tonight if there is any hope their previous decision will be reversed.

Public comment at tonight’s meeting related to the proposed day school, will be limited to three minutes per speaker, and will be heard during the time allotted only. Once the discussion has taken place the school board is expected to vote “yes” or “no” to the day school placement at Hight.

Other details gleaned from last week’s community forum about the program:

  • The day school is for middle school students.
  • There are eight children currently enrolled to attend for this year (August 2008).
  • They are students who have been removed from regular public school for various reasons.
  • The students are selected for this program based on an inability to be successful in a regular middle school setting (Heron, NMS or Leroy Green).
  • The students will have been suspended at least 19 days for multiple purposes (ex: fighting).
  • The capacity for the program is 22 children.
  • The staffing ratio is 1 to 11.
  • The school district says they have nowhere else to house the program.
  • The district says that Hight is a temporary location, but does not indicate for how long.
  • One requirement from the State for a Day School requires that it is on a separate campus.

At last week’s meeting, some parents of the 400+ children enrolled to start at Hight in August expressed concern about not being told about the community day school plans — even though the district has means of contacting them. They also questioned whether a temporary setting would be best for “high risk” youth the program is intended to serve.

Some residents felt the program, and the children being served by the program, deserve a more thorough and permanent plan and that the district should forgo starting this year at Hight. They feel the eight students already enrolled should be placed in an existing classroom on another campus or be allowed to attend a day school program provided by the Sacramento County Office of Education until the district can prepare a place specific to their needs.


  1. But but but.. these kids presumably live in the area, right? Is it responsible to bus them somewhere else so they are someone else’s problem? Seems like we are cornered on this one. Hey maybe this is a good opportunity for some community guys to get involved and be mentors for these kids? Farrar call me !

    Hey I have an idea: Mayor Heather Fargo (who somehow still got 40% of the vote in North Natomas.. hello!!??) is apparently remodeling her South Natomas home. Why not build a day school in her backyard and have the kids go there??

  2. You’re right Joe- these kids presumably live in the area. But it is traditionally the county’s office of Ed that has the responsibility to “fix” them.

    The community school model has no mentor system set up as a component of the school. It’s my understanding from some other teachers that they won’t even operate the HOSTS program. So these kids are there to be punished more than rehabilitated.

  3. T, Charlie tells me the NUSD has one of the best mentor programs in the valley..? Did you see his rebuttal to your comment on my site?

    Does the NUSD have a mentor program or not? This smells like a good investigative story for the BUZZ ;)

  4. Angelique says

    NUSD does have a mentor program – called HOST – where you come in and work with kids who are struggling in specific areas.

    I have a friend who participated last year at Natomas Middle School.

    She helped students with math work and got to know some great kids who otherwise would not have gotten the help they needed.

  5. NUSD does have a mentor program- Angelique is right.

    But the community day school will not have one.

    I like HOST but I think of it more as a tutoring program than a traditional mentor program. It’s not a “find someone in a career you’re interested in and figure out how we can get you from point A to point B” thing. It’s not even Big Brother like. But it’s a good program for what it does.

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