What Will School Look This Year In Natomas?


THE BUZZ read with disgust this morning’s Sac Bee headline declaring “all sides in budget battle gave up something” to balance the state coffers.

While we can appreciate the difficult task faced by our legislators, THE BUZZ is hard pressed to believe those working in the capitol have given up much in the process. Instead, their decisions and, those of our governor, have trickled down to our neighborhood schools which now struggle to purchase simple office supplies.

While most of Natomas schools don’t start until August 10, we are already getting a glimpse of how massive budget cuts are impacting our year-round campuses.

At Natomas Park ES teachers are being asked to send all correspondence home electronically. Witter Ranch ES does not have the $4,000 license renewal fee for its Accelerated Reader program. Teachers at Two Rivers ES have been told the school will maintain photocopy machines, but cannot provide the paper so they must bring their own.


Fast forward to August 14 when layoffs of the five dozen teachers who were pink slipped in June go into effect. Since the process of transferring and reassigning teachers apparently cannot be implemented prior to this date, the assumption is children at schools all over the district will be shifted to new classrooms with different teachers just days after starting school. And students who started school earlier this month? They will not be immune from the same phenomenon.

Recently budget updates sent by the school district have noted the classified employees union’s concessions to take 12 unpaid furlough days each year for the next two years, a total savings of $1 million. And while negotiations are ongoing with the Natomas teachers’ union and unrepresented employees, district officials have placed a lot of emphasis on the need for teachers to make similar concessions.

It is more than likely teachers will approve some furlough days and/or a step-and-column freeze, but the theory being espoused that this would save jobs and keep class sizes smaller is inherently flawed. THE BUZZ sat through nearly all of the budget meetings during which money for workbooks was cut, but at the same time district staff was directed to go forward with purchasing them at a cost of $915,000. Among other things, board members also committed to restoring school sites’ decentralized budgets, translation: copy paper, as money became available.

The way we see it any additional savings provided by classified employee and potential teacher concessions has already been spent and if any jobs are saved, it will only be a fraction of those who were laid off. No matter what happens K-3 class sizes will be larger than last year, just how much remains to be seen.

Comments posted recently on NatomasBuzz.Com call on parents to support their neighborhood schools. We are confident families in our community will do all they can to help out, in the classroom and financially, but these are trying times for everyone. In past years, parents were asked to pay toward classroom expenses as well as provide items on teachers’ wish lists. One seasoned teacher expressed her discomfort with continuing this practice knowing parents are struggling financially and some students already homeless.

What remains unclear to many who reside within the Natomas Unified School District, and who sat in on budget meetings, is what “concessions” have been made by the district office. If our secretaries, teachers and parents are being asked to share the pain, it sure would be nice to know it is being done evenly. How many people working in the Arena Boulevard office are taking furlough days and/or pay cuts? How many actual people working in the district office are now unemployed?

During the district’s budgeting process, it was said many times that “the cuts being made were not about people, but about numbers.” We have to disagree. All these cuts impact people. Not just the custodians and teachers, but the most important people of all – our children.

Let’s not forget that.


  1. Elizabeth says

    Thanks Buzz for the updates. It is hard to believe that school starts in only 2 weeks and there is still so much uncertainty. Thanks for all the time and effort you give to our community.

  2. And, ironically, I was told that specialized volunteering – such as maintaining school website, could not occur due to the jobs that are affected (union). Parents suggested these types of volunteer positions to tide the district over until funding recovery, but were told NO.

    Is that insane or what?

  3. Thanks for a great article, NBuzz… It is definitely not going to be ‘business as usual’ as students return to their classrooms this August (and change classes a few days or weeks later) in Natomas. Money has been drastically cut at the school site level, and our teachers, students and classified staff are going to feel the pain of it. CTA is asking teachers all over the State not to ‘mask the pain’. They are asking teachers not to spend the money out of pocket to make up for lost supplies money, and not to spend unpaid overtime making up for lost workers. Teachers are generally a nurturing, caring group and they give way more than most people outside the school are ever aware. We are asking a lot when we ask teachers NOT to give, but this situation is drastic, and everyone needs to understand how bad it is so that they can be motivated to contact their representatives to press for fiscal changes. Changes to Prop 13for instance, and to stop corporate tax loopholes. At the end of the day, after all of these cuts have been made, the State needs to figure out how to bring in more revenue. 66 teachers received Lay-off notices; numerous others have been displaced and don’t yet know where they will be teaching as classes were closed in July. K-5 teachers are facing 25% more students= 25% more workload and a potential freeze in income increases. The average teacher spends $1500/year in the classroom of their own money. In Natomas, in a recent poll, just under half our teachers spent over $500 last year. I wonder how many other public employees pay for their own pens, markers, staplers, pins, handbooks, paper, etc, as well as those of 30-180 of their peers, as teachers do with their students; or put in hours of ‘overtime’ daily (in addition to their routine after school activities and responsiblities) for no additonal pay. As I said at a recent Board meeting, when teachers are asked to make concessions, the community should be aware of the concessions they already make that can’t be so easily put down on paper. I applaud NatomasBuzz’s questioning where/how the District Office is feeling the pain.

  4. Anonymous says

    Thanks for a wonderful article! It scares me to death that our children and our teachers are suffering so much in this economic crisis. We have all had to give up something but we need to refocus our priorities and put the children and their education first where they belong. When it comes to budget cuts education should be the last place money is taken away from. The fact that teachers are not even provided the basic necessities to teach our children is absolutly ludacris. I’m appalled that we are allowing this to happen to our children!

  5. Just a reminder reader comments will be rejected if they:

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  6. Anonymous says

    I do agree that other employees do not typically spend money on their own supplies for their jobs. However, as a salaried professional, it is not at all unusual to work unpaid “overtime.” I am a CPA and work 70-80 hours a week during busy season for no extra pay because I am a professional and that is what the job requires. Only hourly employees are eligible for overtime.

  7. Actually, the definition of whether or not someone is eligible for overtime has to do with their ability to directly impact their work environment and whether or not they have management responsibility, regardless of salary or hourly wages.

    We all really have to step up and help our kids! If you don’t have children, please step up and help your neighborhood! Whether or not you support the teachers’ union, believe in the district’s efforts or not, these kids will be the adults living next door to you in a few short years. Let’s all pitch in to give them everything we can to succeed! We won’t get out of this recession without smart, capable youth ready to lead.

  8. Anonymous says

    If we keep digging into our own pockets to help, the state and governor will keep cutting, because it will mask the problem. One idea is a parcel tax. Same problem, but it goes to your solution to keep giving more of ourselves. And it doesn’t punish teachers as a group.

  9. Anonymous says

    I was wondering if not having paper as a basic necessity to copy things for use in the classroom and/or at home is not following the Williams Act?


    A friend who teaches in Elk Grove brought that to my attention.

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