Natomas School Closure Committee’s Top Picks

When the Criteria Evaluation Committee gives its report to the Natomas Unified School District board of trustees next week, the following three elementary schools will be presented as the top three recommended for closure:

  • Bannon Creek
  • Natomas Park
  • Jefferson

The short list came out of tonight’s standing-room only meeting held at the Natomas High School library during which committee members reviewed the closure criteria ratings and comparisons.

Tonight, two criteria – capital improvement costs and relocation of other specialized district programs (such as the school readiness at American Lakes Elementary School) – were removed from the equation. Also eliminated from consideration: academic achievement, alternative use of school site, demographic equalization, and community/parent involvement. Committee members said they felt these latter criteria were too difficult to evaluate.
All elementary schools were ranked based on the remaining, weighted criteria with those schools tallying higher numbers being more eligible for closure.
  1. Bannon Creek 349
  2. Natomas Park 340
  3. Heron 309
  4. Jefferson 263
  5. H. Allen Hight 239
  6. Two Rivers 216
  7. Witter Ranch 209
  8. American Lakes 196 
Based on these rankings, committee members each picked their top three candidates for closure. No schools were excluded from consideration.

The three schools with the most committee votes (Bannon Creek 10, Natomas Park 10 and Jefferson 6) will be presented to trustees at the Feb. 10 school board meeting. A special board meeting is set for Feb. 24 to discuss the recommendations and the board is expected to decide which school to close at its March 10 meeting.

For more info on the school closure process, click here.


  1. This whole concept is so divisive and frustrating. How are we supposed to unite Natomas and come together when it’s turning into a North vs. South war. I really hope that people remember who was to blame at election time when we need a new school board and a new tax increase to save our kids.

  2. I was at the meeting as well. In your article you state that “capital improvement costs and relocation of other specialized district programs were removed from the equation”. As I understood it those two criteria, along with “Safe Routes to Other Campuses” were actually the top 3 criteria and were given extra weight in the process.

  3. Certain criteria was given more weight than others. Those three criteria included: operations and maintenance cost, relocation of Special Education programs as well as Safe Routes to Schools.

  4. I find it unbelieveable that the board is even considering Natomas Park Elementary for closure considering it’s one of the most successful and attended schools in Natomas. The parents and teachers have worked very hard to make it a successful school and should be applauded for their efforts and not closed down. I question the cost associated with relocating the special education programs from the other schools as this seems to be the only reason Natomas Park is being considered for closure because it does not have a special day class. The Special Ed students are only a small portion of students associated with our schools. I hope the committee takes this into account when they make their final recommendations.

  5. The committee’s work will need to be looked at crefully, the disruption this will cause is significant, all to save 400k. BC was to close for remodel, the schools are closer together in S Natomas causing less upheaval, there will be a big battle as it should be. And when the district wants to spend millions on empty land or new schools in the future, will will stand up this time. Has anybody seen the 70 million empty school in the panhandle from Grant, how pathetic. How was the committee picked, do the members have kids at any of the schools, are they personally involved at any schools not picked??

  6. I was just about to enroll my daughter at Natomas Park Elementary this March. I guess I will wait to see what happens.

  7. The school board is considering a second school closing for the follow-ng school year. This year BC v Jefferson. Next year it will be NP v Heron. Oh boy!

    When the school or schools close it is likely a charter school will take its place and the district will lose additional ADA funding. Not sure the school board is thinking long term.

    The short term goal by the board is to avoid the state taking over the district. At the beginning of this school year, the teachers had to ask parents for paper. Paper!Maybe it is time to consider if the school children would be better served if the board declared bankruptcy and let the state step in and take over.

    It is a question that is worth an answer.

  8. Anon at 11:07AM

    It’s not actually “likely” that a charter school will take its place. Charter schools have to be approved by the district. Unless the district has a new charter approval in the works already, this isn’t going to happen.

    However, empty buildings are an eyesore for everyone. I’d like to see the new local Catholic church consider it for an elementary school site.

  9. A great it is I was going to enroll my kid at NPES too but now its Catholic school all the way!! Natomas Unified is a joke. Many of my neighbors already send their kids to Catholic schools anyway. Has anyone in the district even heard of the term “brain drain”? Any kid with any college chances will jump ship for the proven results of Catholic schools. The only thing Natomas Unified has proven to me is that its has no idea how to manage money or priorities.

  10. If they plan to covert BC into a K-8, then it makes sense to close it now and start that process. Also, the south area schools are older, and could use repair which is another reason BC or JF should be candidates for closure. It makes no sense to close a newer school that can handle the technology infrastrucure the kids need – and these new schools should be more energy efficient anyway. By the way, please shut the lights at night and save some money.

  11. My understanding is that a charter school just need to sponsered by any school district. It doesn’t have to be sponsered by the home district, or in this case NUSD. Meaning a charter school sponsered by another school district could open a site in NUSD boundries. It is not a sure thing, but has this contingency been considered and steps taken to prevent or deter? Many past board decisions have seemed uninformed. I hope they know what they are doing this time.

  12. Anon 2/5-
    Your understanding is only partially correct. A charter must be sponsored by a school district or the county. It does not have to be sponsored by the district in which it resides. However, only the sponsoring district is responsible for facilities. If the NUSD isn’t the sponsoring district, they would have to arrange a lease or sale of the school site to another district or county. If NUSD didn’t want a charter there, they could simply refuse to negotiate a lease. This is the same with any school that wanted to open there, charter, private, religious whatever.

    Other than that, there isn’t much any district could do to “prevent” that from happening. It doesn’t happen often because it creates hostility between neighboring districts.

  13. @ bonnieearly

    Attendance and test scores were not criteria considered.

  14. Actually, if NP Elementary closes, I’m fairly confident the new campus will be attractive to a new charter school, giving the school a chance to cut almost all of its ties from the mess of the district. I’m equally confused why NP is on this list but going charter may not be such a bad thing. I don’t see it going Catholic…they have a plot of land ready for a school right by the Club.

  15. Can someone explain to me how Bannon Creek Elementary, American Lakes elementary & Jefferson Elementary can all be located so close together, and NPE makes the list. There is no other “safe” route for my child to walk to one of the other Elementary Schools. Once again things that should be part of the “criteria” for closing something will not be considered. Eg. Test scores & overall school performance. Before this area had as many schools as it does now, NPE handled the overflow of students every year. Principle Johnson has been a rock for NPE, and this is how he gets rewarded for all of his hard work and dedication? Being inserted on a list for a possible school closure!

  16. If they used test scores as a measure, then why wouldn’t they consider closing NP? Moving the higher scoring students to lower-performing schools raises API. Leaving it out was a good idea. You have no idea how they would have used the data.

  17. The above comment may be true on paper, but parents of kids who perform better than their peers are too savy to accept being shipped to a bad or mediocre school…this is the essence of “brain drain”. Closing schools may solve the problem short term but it compels any student of promise to look outside of Natomas Unified…and why not? The district is basically telling you that they are going to provide for lesser students first.

  18. @Anon 2/8-
    That is exactly the problem with the district’s math. They assume everyone leaving any of the schools will automatically transfer to any other district school. I can verify this is not the case. There will be a loss of students to private and charter schools regardless of which location NUSD closes. You cannot count your chickens… but the district already has.

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