Today’s Official Natomas USD Budget Update

The Natomas Unified School District’s official followup to last night’s budget meeting was issued a short while ago via the following letter from superintendent Steve Farrar. This info trumps anything THE BUZZ posted earlier this morning in terms of accuracy — it was 2 a.m. after all!

June 12, 2009

Good Afternoon Everyone,

The Board of Trustees met until 12:25 a.m. today to address the most challenging economic collapse facing our state and nation since the Great Depression. A standing-room-only audience attended the special six-hour board meeting in which more than 40 speakers addressed the board.

In summary, the board made an additional $4 million in cuts that will result in the authorization of more than 66 FTE certificated layoffs, more than 14 classified layoffs and additional administrative position reductions. We also have reduced our workforce through an early-retirement incentive program, attrition and other administrative/staff reductions at the Education Center.

The board has now made $6 million in budget reductions this month alone and is facing another $5 million in cuts by June 30 if the district is to maintain fiscal solvency, meet all payroll obligations and illustrate for government regulators that it has a balanced budget for the foreseeable future. These cuts are in addition to the $20 million in reductions already made since the end of last year.

Our District has strived to avoid the pain of issuing layoff notices but the dire state budget situation and the failure of the special-election ballot measures last month gave us no alternative.

The layoff numbers are a haunting testament to just how severe our economic downturn is in California and across the nation. We are changing lives forever, interrupting relationships and hurting our children’s education in incalculable ways. It is a true financial calamity that we are in, and we don’t know if the end is even in sight for our district and state.

There will be no school closures in 2009-10 related to budget reductions but the board did authorize closing a school in 2010-11 if district finances do not improve.

Listed below are the reductions/savings approved last night in an effort to balance our budget and meet our payroll obligations (more detailed financial worksheets will be posted on the web as soon as possible):

* Shift a portion of state categorical programs into the general fund, $1.28 million
* Authorize an additional 17 certificated layoffs and 8 classified layoffs, $1.3 million
* Reduce a classified manager position, $100,000 n Further modifications to the transportation program, $170,000
* Replace middle school athletics with an intramural program, $57,200
* Implement a pay-to-play athletic program at the high school level for a savings of $50,000
* Charge all facility users the actual cost of use, $65,000
* Reduce the number of library media technicians by 20 percent, $100,000
* Eliminate middle school summer school, $40,000
* Reduce the number of certificated substitutes for district workshops and curriculum development, $110,000
* A 10 percent reduction in each Board member’s monthly stipend of $240, $1,440

Other items of note from last night:

* Class-size reduction at K-3 was modified to 25 students to 1 teacher at all four grade levels (last week the Board had increased class sizes to 30-1 at grades 2-3), total savings of $617,626
* The closure of under-enrolled ROP classes was rescinded upon the news that enrollments are up to proper levels for 2009-10, $232,000
* The JROTC program at Natomas High may not be in jeopardy if enrollment levels can be raised for 2009-10, $75,000
* P.E. classes at the junior and senior levels will be eliminated in 2010-11 and offered only to freshmen and sophomores, $232,000
* The 2010-11 budget will reflect the closure of one school unless district finances improve, $400,000
* Implementing a four-day school week for 2009-10 is considered unfeasible because a state waiver and special legislation is needed
* District officials are awaiting clarification from state officials about design standards needed to convert Bannon Creek Elementary from a K-5 to a K-8 school. State officials alerted the district last week about new construction standards in flood zones which may require the use of very heavy engineering equipment which could present a student safety issue.
* A report was made that the District is issuing a Request for Proposals on June 15 for new security services to replace the two School Resource Officers. The District’s $215,033 contract for the SROs ends June 30 and the goal is to have another agency provide the same or better service at lower cost.

The next steps for our District:

* A resolution has been prepared for the June 17 regular Board of Trustees meeting that provides for the layoff by Aug. 14 of more than 66 certificated employees
* Classified layoffs are accomplished with a 45-day notification process.
* A resolution also has been prepared for the June 17 Board meeting that addresses compensation issues now in negotiations with the Natomas Teachers Association and the California School Employees Association Chapter No. 745.
* Projected compensation savings include: freezing step-and-column increases, $1.68 million; implementing furlough days, $283,363 per each furlough day; 3 percent salary reduction for all employees and administrators, $1.644 million; and eliminating compensation for class size overages, $236,000

I pledge to continue to keep you informed of our budget situation, and look forward to the day when I can report that education in California is once again the top financial priority it deserves to be.

-Steve Farrar, NUSD Superintendent


  1. Anonymous says

    It seems unfair to set the deadline for Aug. 14th to notify teachers of being laid-off. Some schools have already started by then! The teachers work their butts off and the human thing to do is to notify them ASAP to give them a fighting chance to get another job.

  2. Anonymous says

    I would love to hear about what’s going in Natomas’s other school district. Is Twin Rivers in the same situation?

  3. Anonymous says

    The August 14th deadline is symptomatic of this haphazard district continuing to make it up as they go along. From the idiotic bragging about being under-budget with a cash surplus earlier this year to last night’s kangaroo court “wait till they all go home then sneak it by the public” tactics, this board is in so far over their heads there’s no escape! Blow the damn thing up and start over.

  4. The only dissenting vote at the board meeting was Lisa Kaplan. I respect her commitment to our kids, but I am wondering what alternative cuts she presented? As painful as these cuts were, I can’t see what other “better” slate of cuts there were. What did she propose that would be different from the slate adopted?

  5. Anonymous says

    She was on the board during (and voted for) the land deal and is the one who suggested the police officer cuts.
    She is just trying to save face because she wants to run for a higher post.
    No one on the school board, especially the ones who agreed to the land deal, should ever be elected to anything again.

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