Natomas Non-Union Employees Propose 11% Pay Cut

School District Takes Step
To Avoid State Takeover 

Natomas Unified School District management and non-union employees propose to take a significant pay cut over the next two years in hopes of avoiding bankruptcy proceedings and a state takeover.

Superintendent Bobbie Plough presented the plan at a district school board meeting earlier this week, saying she was struck by the employee groups’ willingness “to at least be part of the solution.”


The current proposal is to cut pay 11 percent for all non-union staff, certificated and classified management, as well as confidential employees. These workers would also take 15 furlough days to offset the salary reductions.

The move is part of a last-ditch effort to close an $11.4 million budget gap and balance the Natomas school district’s budget three years out as required by state education code. Sacramento County officials last year downgraded the Natomas Unified School District’s budget to “negative” status – meaning it is spending more money than it is taking in despite budget cuts – and set in motion strict oversight of all district finances.

Plough told the Natomas school board that if the district’s two unions also choose to make concessions including furlough days, the plan would be to group these days off, close down the entire district and possibly achieve additional cost savings in the process.

“It’s my understanding, if we have a tentative agreement, Sacramento County will wait to see if it’s ratified,” Plough told THE NATOMAS BUZZ.

But for the plan to work, the district’s teacher and classified employee groups must also agree to comparable pay cuts starting the 2011-12 school year. Although negotiations with the district are ongoing, representatives from both unions said they wanted to see the new state budget’s impact on the Natomas district’s finances. Union reps have also gone on record voicing their concern over the district’s accounting and whether an 11 percent pay cut to all employees is necessary.

Plough told board members the new state budget may translate into the need lower pay cuts. She expects to have an update and any revisions to the proposal for school board members at their Oct. 25 budget workshop.


But in an interview with THE NATOMAS BUZZ, Sacramento County Superintendent David Gordon said the district’s bookkeeping is accurate and warned the state’s revised budget would not make a significant difference to its overall finances.

Gordon’s office has set a Nov. 30 deadline for the Natomas district to balance its budget or face bankruptcy proceedings – also referred to as “state receivership.”

“There is no good news for Natomas. The (state budget) is not going to make up the amount of money they are short,” Gordon said. “There is no way to get from here to there without major (employee) concessions.”

According to Gordon, the receivership process takes 6 to 8 months. When a school district runs out of cash and is unable to meet its payroll, the state is obligated to give the district a loan to pay its bills. Along with the loan comes a state-appointed trustee to operate the district in lieu of the elected school board and superintendent they hired.

The trustee would run the district until such time as the district is able to pay back the loan or make substantial progress toward paying back the loan,” Gordon said.

Gordon said a trustee running the Natomas school district would have broad authority. In addition to paying back the state loan, with interest, the bankrupt school district also pays the trustee’s salary and all costs associated with the trustee up to and including employees they hire. Gordon noted a loan taken by the West Contra Costa Unified School District (then Richmond USD) in 1991 has not been repaid.

“Trust me, you don’t want a trustee to come in and take over the district,” he said. “People should take very seriously a local school district should be governed by the district, not someone sent in by the state.”


  1. On Monday, October 18, 2010, there will be a school board forum held at Natomas Charter School. I would like the incumbents to explain why they should be re-elected after getting us in this mess. Please don’t say the economy. Every school district in the area has faced a down economy, but to my knowledge no others are facing a state take over. Thanks.

  2. I for one do not want to see a state takeover of NUSD. I want a Superintendent who cares about all aspects of the District – not a State trustee who’s only care is balancing the budget at all costs. And, I want NUSD Board Members (trustees) voted in by our community. They may not always be perfect; but, every two years we have the opporunity to elect the most qualified candidates to this board.

  3. Dave Gordon from the county is utterly clueless about the NUSD finances, and his comments are very irresponsible. His lack of an ability to put in place the right people to get the job done is a reflection on him and his dept. He buddied up with Farrar and our board to allow these problems to get out of control. Shame on him for trying to get anyone to believe the district’s bad numbers. This is not an 11 million dollar problem. Start listening to those of us in the trenches for better solutions. And please stop laying the failures of years of bad decisions on the school site employees. Finally, stop spending money we don’t have and expect employee bailouts to be the only to this problem.

  4. It is unfortunate when both the District and County Superintendents both resort to rhetoric to sway the public. What they don’t tell you is that the “non-union” employees didn’t have a choice. They are told how much they are going to give up, and then they talk about what that is going to look like. There is no real altruism. As far as the county superintendent’s role in this mess, where was he when our leaders led us down this path? Where was he when our Board and former Superintendent was spending money like crazy? I say shame on both of them for judging the workers and not holding those who got us in these dire straits responsible.

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