NUSD Considers More Budget Cuts Tonight

Natomas Unified School District Superintendent Steve Farrar sent the following message to all of district employees this morning:

Tonight our school board meets again to address the worst budget crisis of our time. Our district already has been forced to make more than $20 million in budget cuts because of the state crisis, and we are facing perhaps $30 million or more in cuts over the next three years.

Please visit our district website at and click on the red link for “Board Agenda Online” to view the agenda and budget documents for tonight.

In a nutshell – the Sacramento County Office of Education has advised that we must make $5 million in cuts over the next three weeks and may need another $6 million in reductions on top of that just to maintain solvency this summer. With the state budget deficit worsening by the minute, and with voters recently rejecting all of the ballot budget measures, we have no choice but to make these reductions.

At last week’s special meeting on the budget, trustees made yet another $1.2 million in cuts:

  • A freeze on all spending except for health and safety items, $500,000
  • A “sweep” of the Adult Education ending balance into the general fund, $75,000
  • A 50 percent reduction in the supplies budget for 2009-10, $327,000
  • A 50 percent cut in the budgets for extra assignments and overtime, $433,000
Budget reductions that the school board may consider tonight and at future meetings include:

  • Closing schools
  • Authorizing targeted layoffs
  • Eliminating athletics
  • Eliminating summer school
  • Putting more/all schools on multi-track year-round schedules
  • Having a four-day school week
  • Implementing new energy savings that include letting our lawns go brown
  • Not purchasing school workbooks
  • Increasing meal prices in our cafeterias
  • Eliminating bus transportation except for special education students (a mandated service)
  • Eliminating all categorical programs
I wish there was better news to report but I have pledged to keep you informed of our response to this state and national crisis.


  1. Anonymous says

    PLEASE do not put the schools on a multi-track schedule. The modified year round is fine, but not multi-track. Multi-track costs more in energy use because the school in use all year long.

  2. Anonymous says

    How much did the 41 acres of land on the West Lake side area of Natomas for a future high school cost the school district? 13 million dollars! And the District needs a 11 million to remain solvent. Did the superintendant work for GM before coming to Natomas?


  3. How about immediately nullifying the illegal contract for the Westside Lake property and getting that money back? When parties failed to state their conflict of interest the contract should have been null and void. There’s 13 million right there!

    How about increasing the rent for all the churches using the facilities on the weekends? Seems like a steady use of the facilities that aren’t generating nearly enough revenue.

    Who cares if the lawns are brown if the kids don’t have textbooks? That’s just plain silly. Let’s refocus on the classrooms and forget all this nonsense.

    There are a hundred ways to save small amounts of money that add up to a big pile. Reduce copy budgets and require staff to double-side everything. Spend a few hundred per school site and put in motion sensors in every office and classroom so that lights turn off quickly upon exit. Turn up the air conditioning 2 degrees. I was at Inderkum the other day and the classroom I was in was no hotter than 67 degrees. Nobody should need a sweater indoors in Sac in May. Nuts! Increase lunch costs so that programs at least break even. Provide decent, healthy and delicious food so that programs turn a profit. It can be done- many school districts around the country are very successful at this! Turn down the water on the pretty lawns. Ask parents to contribute disposable goods like kleenex, paper and hand sanitizer. Ask parents to come do cleanup days before school starts and to make a commitment to their schools! Those who can, will if they are asked but the regular public schools just don’t ask often enough!

  4. Anonymous says

    I have to disagree about asking parents for more. We already donate things like kleenex, hand sanitizer, etc. We give money to the classroom for field trips and other things. We give money to the zillions of fundraisers. The school district should do a better job at managing their money and making sure the money gets to the classrooms and not to administration.

  5. Anon-
    You might be giving but plenty of parents aren’t! Sure the district should do a better job about managing money but they receive no pressure. Hardly anyone attends board meetings. Residents vote for the same people over again! Some of the current board members voted for the bad land deal and got reelected! Government accountability only works when people actually hold them accountable.

  6. Anon-
    My guess is that it is the teacher asking for supplies like kleenex, hand sanitizer,etc. When I was teaching, these were always standard things I would ask the parents to donate. It was ME asking, not the school. It was rare at our school to actually be able to find a box of kleenex and of course they didn’t supply hand sanitizer. Teachers spend 100’s if not 1,000’s of dollars of their own money every year for classroom needs, and that is on a pitiful salary!!!
    Sac Coffee-I agree, parents need to get more involved. My kids are not in school yet, but you can bet that I will be volunteering as much time as possible when they do get there! If parents work full time, they can still try to get to PTA meetings, board meetings, etc. Yes, a lot of the blame goes to poor money management. However, parents will always find something to complain about. IF YOU DON’T LIKE WHAT YOU SEE…GET INVOLVED…NO EXCUSES!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. Anonymous says

    I know that the teacher is asking for these things..I am a teacher! And I ask for kleenex, hand sanitizer, paper, etc. I teach in a low income school and all my parents donate these items, so I find it hard to believe that parents at our schools in N. Natomas aren’t donating too. I don’t mind asking for things like that. What I am saying is that asking for $100 (per kid) at the beginning of the year for field trips, then fundraiser after fundraiser is enough. I can’t afford to give anymore. After all I am a teacher too!

  8. Anon- I teach in a new N. Natomas school. Of my 20 students, I got donations at the beginning of the year from 6 of them. Later in the year, when we had a fundraiser (the ONLY ONE we had this year), 6 families participated. Thankfully, they brought in enough money to cover the bus for the 2 trips we took, and we were able to get grants for being a school with such a high number of free/reduced lunch students (Title 1). For teacher appreciation week, the PTA asked parents to donate school supplies to help restock the teachers’ cupboards. I got donations from 5 wonderful, terrific families.

    Wouldn’t it be great if EVERY family helped and contributed according to their ability. Even families that are really struggling could afford a reem of paper or a box of pencils to donate.

    As a 19 year veteran teacher, I spent in excess of $2000 this year on my classroom. Non reimbursed. I did this because I had so many students who came to school without the basic supplies that I’d asked each child to have (binder, crayons, scissors, glue stick, and white board markers). I did this because it’s the right thing to do, because I can. MY family forgoes many luxuries so that I can afford to supply my classroom each year.

    I am a teacher, too. I give to my kids’ schools. I volunteer time and money to insure that they have a quality education. I laugh when I run into the entire staff of my school shopping the sales at WalMart in August just so that we can have things for the kids, so that it’s a nice place to go to school.

    Parents ARE NOT donating. North Natomas has been harder hit than almost any area in the state with the foreclosure crisis. Many many of my families are county and state workers who are facing layoffs, furloughs, and pay cuts themselves. They are worried about the future. So am I.

  9. Ellie-
    You are right. I taught 5 years of middle school in North Natomas. About half of my parents always contributed. The other half never did. And I know they could because I know how much their shoes, backpacks, cars and fancy houses cost. Really, if you can put $200 for new Nikes, you can put $5 for white board pens. My first year teaching I spent over $3000 of my own money just to get my classroom the way I wanted it.

    The problem is parents’ attitude. “I paid for this school already” in my property taxes or whatever. If you want a good solid education for your children, you have to kick in more time and money than just your property taxes. You have to volunteer, buy stuff and also VOTE for leaders who actually want a quality education for your kids! NUSD right now is full of fledgling politicians looking for a boost. Not people who actually care about our kids and are willing to do what’s right, even when it’s hard.

  10. Anonymous says

    My older kids were educated in the State of Washington where on the last day of school a supply list for the following year was sent home. The family provided all supplies for their students–paper, notebooks, pens, pencils, etc. It was a very long list, but even with 5 kids in school at the same time, a quick trip to WalMart always cost less than $100. Less than alot of kids pay for a pair of shoes. Let’s get the priorities straight.

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