Natomas District Expects Impasse Decision Today

Officials Seek State Help
Negotiating With Teachers

The Natomas Unified School District expects to receive word today whether the state will intervene in contract negotiations with its teachers’ union.

School district officials on Nov. 18 declared an impasse in talks with union negotiators, seeking help in the form of a state mediator. Natomas teachers’ union leaders dispute labor talks stalled and filed opposition papers. The state Public Employment Relations Board had five business days to respond.

The Natomas school district is asking all employees to take a pay cut starting the 2011-12 school year, when contracts are set to renew, to offset an $8.9 million cash-flow shortfall. Without such cuts – or a state loan – the district expects to run out of money to pay its bills come August 2011 and is projected to have only four months positive cash flow the whole year.

“We want to access (state) help,” said Superintendent Bobbie Plough of the impasse filing. “Part of that is because of the timeline. We see this as something positive. A state state mediator can help us.”
The Sacramento County Office of Education has given Natomas until Nov. 30 to solve its fiscal crisis or it will begin bankruptcy proceedings. Plough has said county superintendent Dave Gordon is poised to hold a community meeting about the state takeover process if the deadline is not met.

The Natomas Teachers’ Association president Cynthia Connell said the union has offered nearly 5 percent in pay cuts at the negotiating table, but Plough says these numbers are “conceptual” and not formal pay cut proposals. Despite the district’s impasse request and teachers’ union opposition, both parties confirm they already have negotiation sessions scheduled for Dec. 1 and Dec. 6.

Meanwhile, Plough’s office has issued a video detailing the Natomas school district’s financial situation and what a state takeover could mean to its schools. Natomas parents have also rallied to get the word out about the impending bankruptcy and a show of appreciation for teachers, in hopes an agreement will be reached and a state takeover avoided.

Contract talks continue with the district’s classified employees’ union.

“If we could get agreement now and submit a budget to the county, it buys us time,” said Plough. 

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