Natomas School Takeover On Tonight’s Agenda

The impacts of a possible state takeover will be covered at tonight’s Natomas Unified school board meeting.

District Superintendent Bobbie Plough is set to present board members with information on what a loan from the state entails, the long-term effects of a state takeover, and a timeline for the process. If school officials cannot balance the district’s budget three years out by a Nov. 30 deadline, bankruptcy proceedings are slated to start.

In recent weeks, the district has reviewed and recalcated its finances, but still has an $8.9 million “cash flow” shortfall. Natomas finances are so bleak, the district cannot borrow money to offset state funding deferrals like other school district’s in the region.

And, according to Plough, there is nothing left to cut except employee salaries.

“I wouldn’t recommend any other budget cuts,” she said. “I feel it would be detrimental to students’ education.”

District management proposes to take an 7.9 percent pay cut and several unpaid furlough days to help offset the budget shortfall. While Plough says negotiations continue with the teachers’ and classified employees’ unions, insiders say talks have reached an impasse and likely will not reach an agreement in time to meet the Nov. 30 deadline.

For two years running, teachers and classified employees, including school secretaries and custodians, have faced layoffs, pay freezes and unpaid furlough days, but those agreements expire with the 2010-11 school year. Plough has said these employees will need to take an 7.9 percent pay cut in 2011-12 and 2012-13 for the district to have enough money to prevent a state takeover.

“It’s dependent on our negotiations as far as getting budget we need to satisfy the county,” said Plough. “There isn’t anything more I can do.”

Also on tonight’s meeting agenda: A public hearing on the petition to create a Westlake Middle School starting in fall 2011.
Tonight’s meeting is 6:30 p.m. in the Natomas Middle School multipurpose room at the H. Allen Hight Learning Center on North Park Drive.
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