June 19, 2009

Good Afternoon Everyone,

The Natomas Unified School District continues to grapple this month with at least an $11 million budget gap as the effects of the worsening state budget crisis weighs us down.

Our Board of Trustees has been meeting weekly to address the situation, and has made $6.4 million in budget cuts through June 11. The following actions were taken at the June 17 meeting:

n A resolution authorizing the layoff of the following certificated services was approved:

o Elementary teaching services

Multiple Subject Service, 44.5 FTE (fulltime equivalent)

Elementary Counselors, 2.0 FTE

Elementary Prep Specialist, 1.0 FTE

o Secondary teaching services

English, 2.6 FTE

Social Science, 3.3 FTE

ROP Business Management, 1.0 FTE

Computer/Business/Technology, 0.5 FTE

Physical Education, 2.6 FTE

Counseling, 2.6 FTE


n A resolution reserving the district’s right to make employee compensation reductions for 2009-10 was approved. Negotiations are now under way with the Natomas Teachers Association and the California School Employees Association Chapter No. 745 to address compensation reductions. The following possible compensation reductions are under consideration for all employees:

o Freeze of 2009-10 step-and-column or step and longevity increases, $1.68 million in savings

o Reduction in bargaining unit member work days, savings to be determined

o Reduction in district salary schedules, savings to be determined

o Reduction to certificated and classified stipend schedules, savings to be determined

o Any combination of compensation reductions that assists the district in achieving a sustainable budget

o A freezing or reduction in health benefits contributions or in retiree benefit programs

o Other as-needed compensation savings dependent upon future budget developments

Please note the following:

n We are adhering to strict certificated layoff deadlines driven by the state Education Code. Layoff letters are in the process of being sent to the affected employees based on seniority and credentials. A very specific layoff and hearing process will occur in July, with layoffs scheduled to take effect by Aug. 14.

n Class sizes are expected to increase as a result of the authorized layoffs. Every effort will be made to have class sizes of 25 students to 1 teacher at K-3 and 30 students to 1 teacher at grades 4-5. In grades 6-12, however, class sizes could be more than 30 students. Generally, our contract with the NTA provides that classes will not exceed 34-35 students, with a few exceptions for P.E. and music classes which may be higher.

n Our three year-round schools – Natomas Park Elementary, Two Rivers Elementary and Witter Ranch Elementary – have notified their parents of the possibility that some students starting the new school year prior to teacher layoffs taking effect Aug. 14 may have to change teachers or tracks after their school year starts. The district is bound by law to follow a layoff process that does not allow for the projected layoffs to take affect prior to the beginning of the new year-round school year.

n A worksheet will be posted to the district website as soon as possible outlining the various layoffs by employee category. Current information shows that four administrative positions have been eliminated while administrative/classified/spending reductions at the Education Center total an estimated $1.6 million.

n The Board asked that revised budget worksheets be available by the June 24 Board meeting that reflect how much of the federal stimulus funds have already been included in the budget and whether any additional funds can be shown as new income.

n Further changes in student transportation were approved by the Board on June 17, with the district now allowing buses to carry up to three students per seat as needed instead of two.

n A contract was approved to have Compass Group USA operate the district’s Food Services Program, at a savings of $300,000 to the district. Food service employees will remain district employees and current labor agreements shall remain in force.

While it is unfortunate that many of our employees are starting their summer break with such disheartening news, our district has pledged to keep our staff and community informed of the dire consequences facing our district as a result of the most challenging economic collapse of our state and nation since the Great Depression.

Dr. Steve M. Farrar, Superintendent

Natomas Unified School District

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