Opinion: Natomas Classrooms In Crisis

What Else Is There To Give?
Submitted by NTA Communications Committee
Clearly there is a crisis in Education in California, and it is hitting us hard here in Natomas too. Natomas Unified School District has just released its annual budget report and is citing a deficit of $11.4 million over the next three years. This follows last year’s report which indicated a need to cut $9 million.
Natomas teachers have responded by offering 11 furlough days and a calendar conversion, giving up their supplies budget and spending their own money on pencils, crayons, markers, notebooks, folders and binders for students, and preparing lessons for 50 percent more students. One hundred teachers lost their jobs altogether, and others have given up prep time and stipend positions. The cost savings is around $17 million. In addition to that, Natomas parents and families have donated their own money and supplies to help our struggling classrooms.

Now Natomas educators are being asked to give even more. Did you know that the district is seeking a waiver from the State to crowd our elementary classes even further? Teachers are being asked to contribute another $11 million to the District’s budget crisis yet we have no input on how this money is spent.

Natomas teachers believe that if our District leaders were better stewards of the public funds, if they were more financially responsible and if they used proper systems and resource management, they wouldn’t be in the position of asking their teachers, again, to solve this crisis for them.

In the District’s own budget report they cite the following reasons for the continuing crisis:
The District “…miscalculated its enrollment projections for 2009-10″, “did not make the large, strategic cuts soon enough”,   “did not heed the warnings of fiscal peril from its own internal financial experts and SCOE” and “may be subsidizing the Charter Schools in the District, as well as Facilities Use by the community, by not charging the full cost of District services”.
In going forward, Natomas teachers would like to see the district tighten its financial belt, cut back unnecessary services, make realistic budget adjustments and make any necessary remaining cuts away from the classrooms; our students should be the last ones affected by the gross cuts that have been made. We appreciate the support the Natomas community has shown and continues to show to our teachers, our students and our schools. We hope you continue to support us as we fight to maintain our professional integrity.
(You can read the entire Unaudited Actuals report at www.natomas.k12.ca.us)
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  1. I agree our teachers do an incredible job. The pay cuts being asked for are not just teachers, but all employee groups, including administration. Another main reason the District is in turmoil is that our funding is based on the 2000 census when most of north Natomas did not even exist. On top of that the building moratorium has caused our District to loose potential enrollment dollars. Yes, there was a slow response to the financial turmoil, other districts started laying off teachers 6 months – 1 year before we did. Currently, about 90% of the budget is labor costs. If NTA has real items that they know of that can be cut, then I am sure we would all like to hear about it. No one wants to cut salaries and positions.

  2. It would also seem that we are subsidizing our charter schools, and perhaps paying more for each of those charter students than we are for our other students. Perhaps it is time to reconsider providing an additional monies to even HAVE charter schools. If it is too expensive, and only benefits a VERY select few…then get rid them.

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