Natomas Candidates’ Priorities For Federal Funds

THE NATOMAS BUZZ rephrased a question submitted by a Natomas Unified School District employee and asked the six candidates for school board “How do you think monies from the Education Jobs Fund should be spent and do you feel rehiring laid-off teachers should be a priority for the district at this time?” Here are the answers we received, in the order they were submitted. Click here for previous entries in this series.


The Federal Ed Jobs Program was designed to save or create education jobs this school year and next. Jobs funded under the program include those that ‘provide educational and related services for early childhood, elementary and secondary education.’ The program is not limited to funding credentialed teachers.
Natomas USD is scheduled to get approximately $2 million.  While that would be a lot of money to my family, it represents only enough funding for 20-30 positions. Spread over two years, it will mean less than one full-time position per school site.
My first priority, and that of many teachers and parents I have spoken with, is to restore librarians at our elementary schools. This is something that can be done quickly and without disturbing established teacher/student relationships in classes already operating.
Following that, if the funds will stretch, I would look for other important health and safety positions to restore that do not require disrupting classes. That list includes additional time for health assistants, additional grounds and maintenance personnel to keep our facilities in repair, additional campus safety monitors and additional counselors to help our students at school.
Unfortunately, these are only one-time funds. They cannot be used to restore programs for the long term and are only a bridge to better times in state funding. Cautious use now will prevent the need to lay off additional personnel in the future. They will help us meet critical operating needs now.


A special thank you, to the Patricia Adams’ team for asking the tough questions that led to changing this week’s question.
H.R. 1586 authorizes $10 billion in education funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Of this $10 billion Natomas gets a mere $1.2 million. These funds can be used to retain, recall, or rehire teachers, nurses, counselors, and classified staff as well as to hire new employees who can provide early childhood, elementary, or secondary educational services.
The money may not be used for purposes such as equipment, utilities, renovation, or transportation.
While California will receive enough money to save 16,500 jobs, Natomas’ $1.2 million will only save 15-17 depending on their salary level. My decision has to be about getting the biggest bang out of the $1.2 million.
The following questions need to be addressed:
  • What students need now for their academic, social and personal success?
  • Are we receiving class size reduction monies or other program monies that support staffing?
  • Are our present teacher/student ratios meeting our agreement with the teachers union?
I would advise the superintendent to develop a committee to identify three possible funding scenarios based on this year’s priorities. My decision then would come from the answers to the above questions, my review of the three scenarios, and finally with input from my constituents. 
These steps would allow me to make the best possible decision in spending the $1.2 million on behalf of our students.


My campaign team called the Natomas superintendent’s office to verify statements in this week’s original question that contained comments that were attributed to her. We discovered that the question, in fact, contained information that was not true. As a consequence this week’s question was reviewed and changed.
This incident speaks volumes about leadership, research and the role of the board in making difficult decisions.
The original question in its context was so divisive that it pitted one working group against another. This kind of divisive politics has gone on for far too long in our district. When groups fight for scant resources it disconnects services from the very students we promise to nurture and support.
All district decisions must be made in favor of improving educational services for all students.
As board members we should post signs in all meeting areas that say: Students first, students second and students third, we are all here because they are here.
What we do know is that Obama’s Education Jobs Bill provides money that can be used to retain, recall, or rehire teachers, nurses, counselors, and classified staff and to even hire new employees to provide early childhood, elementary, or secondary educational services.
I would direct my superintendent to identify those student needs based on the 2010-2011 District Plan and create several different ways the monies can be spent over the next two years. Along with my own research, I will review these plans and make the best decision for all kids.

The monies from the Education Jobs Fund are a one-time cash infusion with strings attached. The money can only be used for salaries and benefits, and it must be spent in the 2010-2011 and 2011-12 school years. Our district should communicate honestly and openly with our teachers and support staff to avoid raising false hopes. The district should allocate these funds transparently, and offer a clear vision for the future. We must have a plan for what to do when the funds run out.

There is an outcry in our community about burgeoning class sizes, so rehiring teachers is obviously a priority. At the same time our support staff (including librarians, health assistants and counselors) has been decimated by recent layoffs. Our elementary school students desperately need their libraries open, and our high school students need guidance to craft successful college applications. My top priorities would be to rehire librarians and counselors.

However the money is spent, we must strive to restore accountability to our budget process. A fully audited and transparent budget would go a long way to rebuild community trust in the school district. Clear communication from the district about our spending priorities is absolutely necessary to avoid demoralizing our teachers and support staff.


Our kids deserve a world-class 21st century education. California is in the worst fiscal crisis since the Great Depression and our kids have suffered enough harm with the astounding cuts to our children’s education. Natomas Unified is set to receive $1.28 million each year for two years from the Education Jobs Fund, which can only be used for compensation and benefits to retain existing employees or rehire former employees.

My first priority with the EJF is to work with our teachers and classified employees to re-open our libraries, rehire health assistants, bring back counselors, hire aides for our kindergarten teachers, campus monitors to support student safety and other support services to make sure the needs of our children are met.

However, Natomas has yet to receive any EJF money. As a result of this, Natomas had to make difficult decisions before the beginning of the school year, so we finalized classroom assignments and course schedules. Adding new teachers, classrooms, and course-offerings two months into our school year will cause more disruption to our children than I will put our kids through.

I will reach out to our parents, teachers, community leaders, and employees at all levels to make sure we continue to advance reforms in our schools, increase standards and accountability, expand equity and access for all of our students, while continuing to increase graduations rates and test scores district-wide. Our kids come first and I will continue to fight for their education.


I believe the money should be use to hire back some of our laid off teachers, as-well-as librarians and teacher’s aids.
Yes, getting our laid off teachers back in the classroom is a priority. The problem is that it would be grossly irresponsible to hire all of these teachers back at once. With the current mismanagement, I’m afraid that it would result in lay-off of teachers once more. I feel that we must hire back a fraction of our laid-off teachers which would bring relief to the class room.
Reopen the Library

This money can be used to bring back the librarians which would reopen the campus libraries. There are teachers that request the libraries to be reopen because they know it to be a strong tool in educating their students. My daughter enjoys checking out books from the library to bring home so we can read them together. Libraries are a central educational tool; we must look into reopening them.
Reduce the class ratio by hiring teachers aids

First thru third grade are very important grades in the educational development of our students, it is also the grades where problems first occur. A lot of these problems are due to the fact that the teacher cannot give every child the same individual time needed daily. Placing TAs in these classrooms will cut down the ratio from 30:1 to 15:1 and will also allow the teacher and aid to correct behavior issues before they become issues that affect instruction.


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