Money, Safety Top Natomas Candidates’ Lists Of Issues

THE NATOMAS BUZZ asked the six candidates for Natomas Unified School District school board “What do you think is the most important issue facing the district and how should it be handled?” Here are the answers we received.


The most important issue facing the Natomas district is the lack of transparency in our leadership. Just two years ago, the district bragged about a $7 million surplus. Now our district is one step away from “State Receivership.”

As president of the Natomas Parent Alliance, I have not been able to gather enough information as to why our finances have regressed so rapidly in such a short amount of time.
It has been my experience that the community doesn’t find out about an issue or concern until it is already too late to do something about it.

The following are striking examples of this lack of transparency in our leadership:
  1. The land deal purchase that our two incumbents voted for. The district paid more than four times its worth and are still paying lawyers to get out of the deal;
  2. The move of a whole middle school to another campus across the freeway;
  3. Spending millions of dollars on a district wide mentoring program that failed miserably;
  4. Not providing district data to the public on how students are faring in our schools to provide answers to why over 50% of our students score poorly on State tests.
One incumbent wants a 6th term, another wants a 3rd term. If the Natomas school district was a corporation performing badly, the shareholders would demand more than just a new superintendent.

The public has a right to know- as your trustee, there would be transparency in all district decisions.


The most important issue facing our district is safety.

The safety of our students, teachers/staff, and surrounding community are at risk. It is no secret that Natomas has experienced a sharp increase in property-related crimes and, unfortunately, the majority of perpetrators are, in fact, teenagers. The problem has been further exacerbated by the school district’s decision to cancel the Student Resource Officers contract and city’s inability to provide adequate funding for law enforcement within our community.

Students should not be forced to choose between their safety and their education. Schools should be a place of learning, not violence and fear. Growing up in Southern California I witnessed many atrocities; if not for the added protection of Resource Officers, I, along with many other students would not have been able to avoid the pitfalls and distractions that often times emerge within the student population.

In order to increase safety in our schools, we need to reestablish district contracts with the Sacramento Police Department. It is vital for both students and the community that we once again have officers present on our campuses. SROs not only establish a sense of safety on campus, but they also respond to calls within the area; providing an additional benefit to the community.

Strengthening the relationship between SROs and students will not only promote healthy interactions between teens and law enforcement, but also give a sense of security to the community as a whole by serving as a deterrent to many teen related crimes.


The budget outlook of Natomas Unified School District is so bleak that the Sacramento County Office of Education took over partial control of the district’s finances last year. Our district has a money problem. Accountability is the solution.

We have the distinction of being among just 14 California school districts that are facing bankruptcy. There are 1,077 school districts statewide, so that places Natomas Unified in the bottom 2%. In fact, Natomas Unified is the only school district in Sacramento County that owes more money than it can pay for at least two more years. The State Department of Education has slapped our district with a scarlet letter: a “negative budget certification.”

If I’m elected to the Natomas Unified School Board, I will call for an independent audit of administration spending so we can identify waste and make the necessary cuts. I will urge the school board to apply the savings to needed classroom priorities, such as hiring teachers and re-opening school libraries. I will invite public oversight of board decisions to fight corruption and prevent future abuses. I will bring our community together so we can address the budget disaster and promote accountability.


Money. Money. Money. Natomas is living through the cruelest time our State has seen. The State of California is broke. Our legislators are gridlocked. Natomas, like nearly every district in the State, has cut teachers, workers, and the classes we offer our children. 

I am the Board Member fighting for Natomas, fighting for our kids.

I’m enraged by the mismanagement of our educational dollars statewide and in our own district. I spoke up and was the only vote against our budget last year that did not appropriately manage our taxpayer resources. I will continue this fight by being smart about using our limited resources and by speaking out every time I see your tax dollars going to waste. 

But, to do my job, I need you. I want every parent who shares my frustration and every teacher educating our children to step forward and make this district work harder and smarter to meet your needs.

Even in the midst of our fiscal crisis, our children are excelling. While funding to Natomas is 27% less than it was 2 years ago, our test scores are up. Over the past five years, American Lakes has increased it’s test scores over 132 points; Natomas High increased test scores 75 points this year alone; and, last year, Witter Ranch was named a California Distinguished School. 

That’s progress in the right direction. We need to come together to support excellence in our schools. I’ve led the way so far.  Trust me to continue.


The most important issue is the budget. Two years ago, the Natomas district had a $7-8 million surplus. Earlier this year they gave 92 teachers their pink slips and explained, “It’s the poor economy” that has created this impossible situation.
In a Bee article several months ago, Dan Walters indicated that 84% of all districts dealing with this budget crisis were handling it pretty well. These districts made smart budget decisions in anticipation of future problems. They curbed spending, increased savings, froze hiring, refused to renew contracts, refused to commit to new projects and obligations, cut spending- all as part of a long term budget plan.
Natomas along with the other 16% of struggling school districts did not develop and commit to a plan. If it is not buying swampland for four times its value (legal fees are continuing), it’s spending millions on a mentoring program that was at utter failure, it is hiring a revolving door of central office administrators who accomplish very little before they leave.
It is estimated that close to 40% of you send your kids to schools outside of the district- at a rate of increase close to 5% a year. If this trend continues our budget situation will worsen. The budget problems along with the negative perception of our schools will not go away until we rid ourselves of those responsible for their creation. As a board candidate, I would do (as I indicated above) what other successful districts have done.


  1. Thank you, Buzz, for asking the candidates such an important question — this information is very valuable for the voters! Now I feel much more informed. :)

  2. Stay tuned for next week’s installment.

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