Natomas Teachers Vote Against Pay Freeze

THE NATOMAS BUZZ has learned a tentative contract agreement between the Natomas Unified School District and Natomas teachers’ union failed to pass this week and was narrowly voted down 227 to 201.

NOT APPROVED was a plan to set K-3 class size at 26 for one year and freeze the teachers’ step-and-column pay schedule for two years.

What’s next? Natomas Teachers’ Association reps tell THE BUZZ they will survey union members to find out what concessions teachers are willing to make after which bargaining with district reps can resume.

The Natomas school district’s classified employees agreed to take 12 unpaid furlough days the next two years while unrepresented/ management employees are taking eight furlough days and a freeze in step-and-column increases.


  1. So let’s see if I understand the situation… NUSD screws up last spring, as Superintendant tells Board they can balance the budget without laying off teachers. 2-3 months later, they announce plans to lay off 50-70 teachers and dramatically increase class sizes. Then, finally, after cutting everything possible from the budget, NUSD asks NTA to consider concessions that could keep teachers in the classroom and they can’t even agree to give up their automatic raises this year? I don’t get it. According to NUSD’s budget staff, a freeze in Step & Collumn combined with a 3-5% raise could have mitigated most of the layoffs and class size increases.

  2. Scott Dosick says

    Okay Natomas – let’s stop making the same mistakes they’re making in the big white building downtown. Stop looking at this situation as just a spending problem. We also have a significant revenue problem. If the State is going to continue to balance the budget on the backs of our children, we need to do something. I say it’s time for local ballot measure to look at temporary parcel or sales increases that will specifcally go towards keeping teachers employed and reducing the class sizes back to their 2008-9 levels. I don’t want to look back 10 years from now and realize we could have saved our schools. An entire generation of our youth are counting on us. Who’s with me?

  3. Yes, there is less revenue but I see spending, earmarks & STEWARDSHIP as a bigger issue.

    TwinRiversUSD has laid off teachers,increased class size and gotten rid of the VP’s who used to handle discipline and behavior issues at the same time classrooms are getting new student computers and smartboards in K-6 classes. New technology is fantastic & cool but I think smaller classrooms and VP’s to handle discipline are more critical to my Grandkids learning than technology that will be outdated before the budget crisis is resolved in this state.

    The national stimulation plan earmarked millions to upgrade cafeteria equipment in CA schools. Really? Should this be the priority when it comes to schools right now?

    Field trips and special speakers are nice and exciting but aren’t teachers and supplies more important?

    There are many other examples of poor stewartship in the schools and throughout local, state and federal government that make those of us who learned the 3 R’s with blackboards and sacks lunches reluctant to vote for additional taxes. It’s time to realize money does not grow on trees and live within our means.BAS

  4. Scott Dosick says

    Respectfully, I would encourage you to look at NUSD’s budget:
    I’ll make you a deal: you find millions of dollars needed to balance the budget, address future projected shortfalls, hire back VPs, bring back teachers, and reduce class sizes without a new source of revenue, and I’ll drop the whole thing. 85% of the budget is salaries. 15% is everything else — from fields trips to paper, text books, utilities, etc. I don’t want to see my taxes increase. I’m a small business owner who’s getting hammered in this economy. That said, I’m willing to do my part to invest in the future of the children (and grandchildren) in Natomas schools. I am not willing to write this generation off.

  5. We have some really great teachers in Natomas – we do. But it is a little hard to swallow that they cannot absorb a pay increase freeze. Everywhere you go businesses are laying off folks, and freezing pay increases. And in regular businesses, there is no choice – they are told this is what is happening. Why is this situation different? Oh yeah – they get to vote on whether to take the freeze. Guess no one would want that. But by simply forgoing increases, we could possibly save a few teaching jobs? Sounds like no brainer to me.

  6. Now wait a minute! Ask a teacher in Natomas if there is a need to make concessions that will help the District save money, and the vast majority will say that, yes, we need to do something. The fact that concessions are needed, and that teachers will likely have to give up something, is understood and generally accepted. HOWEVER, and it’s a big however, most teachers will also attest to the fact that there were no concessions offered on the part of the Distric to offset any losses.

    Teachers were polled last spring, and most were willing to take furlough days (then we’d at least get a day off with our own families!). However, when it came down to negotiations, the district suddenly wanted 4 times as many furlough days as they first indicated. So, instead, they ended up with a negotiated step/column freeze. This was all done with the understanding that, if ratified, teachers would be rehired and class size reduced. At the 11th hour it was indicated that teachers would NOT be rehired even if the agreement was ratified. People felt betrayed, and ultimately the agreement failed to pass.

    Now we will begin to negotiate again. Hopefully this time everyone can be honest and upfront about what is needed and expected, and what will be given in return.
    An annonymous NTA member

  7. I’m sorry but the idea of teachers taking furlough days is simply ridiculous. It would require other teachers to cover for them or the cost of subs to cover the classes. It’s not like you can just tell little Johnny not to come because the teacher is on furlough! It’s my understanding that this was a pay freeze, no loss out of your pocket.

    My husband took a 14% pay cut, three furlough days a month and is working 50 hours a week to get all the work done so that other people wouldn’t lose their jobs. It’s time for the teachers to realize that everyone is in a world of hurt.

    There isn’t time to negotiate… there’s no paper for homework.

    A teacher… who is not an NTA member.

  8. Furlough days = school closed.

  9. FYI -there are 3 easy furlough days that teachers would take that would NOT impact the families. That would be the three staff development days the teachers are forced to attend, which are non-student days.
    Also, all of the surrounding districts gave furlough days as concessions. The state budget affects OUR community, and if you freeze pay then you are hiding the budget problem on the backs of teachers who many barely live paycheck to paycheck. Yes, teachers are willing to help. We always do! But why should we be different from other districts? What the district was insisting teachers take was unreasonable. They need to try another approach. I am appalled that some have commented about teachers. Come on – this is Natomas Unified we are talking about! Remember the land fiasco? Why should they pay for poor decision-making?

  10. Why is everyone focusing their anger at the teachers? It is the school district leadership that put us in this mess — not the teachers. The district is insolvent. Let’s not fool ourselves. Let the county office of education come in and take over. The cost cutting going on down at the school district is just smoke and mirrors so board can maintain the appearance of solvency and retain control. Hello, no paper to make copies for homework — can anyone say insolvent.


  11. Why? Because in a time where parents in our community are being forced to take significant cuts in pay, some (not all) teachers in Natomas put their own needs ahead of their coworkers and their students. Simply, all other employee groups in Natomas took pay cuts. Those who voted no, voted for larger class sizes and fewer coworkers, just so they could get their raises. So, when your 1st grader heads off to their classroom with 29 other kids crammed into it, be sure to thank the NTA.

  12. My focus is on the big picture – irresponsible spending throughout government on all levels.

    I know I digress from main topic a bit but I can’t help but wonder if public safety and school cuts aren’t partly political game playing. Ask yourself – What other cuts are going to upset voters into voting for tax increases next time around?

    As far as teachers living from paycheck to paycheck – how is that different from the rest of those who have taken pay cuts and layoffs? As they say down south, “That dog don’t hunt.”BAS

  13. So, I am a Natomas teacher and I don’t get an “automatic raise” every year. Also, compared to other districts, Natomas teachers pay more out of pocket for benefits, so we start out behind. Finally, the district started this calendar year with a 10% reserve that was used to balance the budget. That large reserve was all of the “pay increases” that Natomas teachers have sacrificed for all these years. Why would you even begrudge a Natomas teacher the small amount SOME of them might get to lessen starting out behind the rest? It’s very discouraging that people don’t look at the real details of the devil we call district fiscal management. When teachers get to control those decisions, then maybe you can blame us for the mismanagement and deprivation towards our classrooms. For shame.

  14. I am not a teacher , but it seems like the district was not negotiating with the teachers in good faith. They (the district) can’t promise setting class sizes to a certain number to the teachers in exchange for pay and column freezes and then take it back. It is time to look at new administration in NUSD. Does anyone know how long Farrar has on his contract?

  15. The main “shame” here is that the state chose to disproportionally cut education compared to other budget items. However, in the current environment, given the current state of funding, I don’t know how some of these teachers can look us parents in the eye and basically say “I don’t care if you’ve taken a significant cut in pay for your state job, but I deserve a pay increase – and I’m willing to sacrifice your kids’ education and my coworkers’ jobs to get it.”

    I totally agree that teachers are underpaid, and in a perfect world, they should be paid much higher than they are – our children’s’ education is worth it. But, living in the real world, with our state legislature’s misplaced priorities, there is a finite amount of money available to the district. The other groups in the district were willing to take cuts in pay to save jobs – why wouldn’t the teachers at least be willing to take a freeze (let alone a raise).

    I am very active in my child’s education, and volunteer as much as possible, because I know teachers are asked to do the impossible. Typically, I look at every issue on the side of teachers, because I know how crucial a job it is. But, now I am becoming a bit disenchanted, seeing how some teachers believe they are too important to have to sacrifice like the rest of us in the community. And, I know there are other parents just like me. It is a bit hard to feel sympathy for some who are not getting increases when the rest of us are taking major cuts in pay. Especially when my child is the one that truly pays the price.

    But, that’s just my 2¢

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