Measures J, L funding renovates Natomas schools

Voter education critical in building, improving schools

Measure J and Measure L, funding bills passed in recent years have significantly impacted the Natomas Unified School District. 

Measure J is a $129 million school facilities bond approved by voters on the November 2014 ballot that serves all Natomas schools – charter and non-charter. The Natomas Unified Board of Trustees approved a Facilities Master Plan that identifies school facility needs over the next 15 years.

Measure L is a $172 million school facilities bond passed on the November 2018 ballot to serve all Natomas schools – charter and non-charter.

The motivation behind these bills started because of city council redistricting in Natomas.

“Mayor Pro Tem (Angelique) Ashby has been a council member for 11 years. When redistricting came out, they shortened her council district,” said Kariana Talamantes, the board president of the Sacramento County Office of Education. “She, as a council member, was tasked with the development and growth of a brand new district… We needed to make sure we had the appropriate infrastructure,”

The creation of Paso Verde, a K-5 school, updated playgrounds, improved safety features and an emphasis on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math)  and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math), are some examples of what the funding went towards for Measure J and L

In recent years, Tom Rutten, the Executive Director of Natomas Pacific Pathways Prep has overseen the construction of a new middle school building that was finished around 2018, and a new elementary school building, which is scheduled to finish in June of 2022.

“Being asked to participate and making sure Measure L passed was a wonderful thing for Natomas Unified to do for us, to allow us to be part of it, and you look at the benefits to NP3 to our families and parents, it’s going to be a very beautiful elementary school… all the bonds and partnership with Natomas have been valuable,” said Rutten.

“When you have a new building, you have a new updated building and you have enhanced learning. Teachers can be a lot more responsive, which means moving classrooms around, because all the furniture is on wheels. Our desk can be put together 6 different ways. The technologies have been upgraded which has been huge for learning nowadays,” said Lindsay Anzelc, principal of NP3 Middle School.

Anzelc also explained that they were able to give design inputs, and the process was extensive.

“We had lots of meetings with all the stakeholders and visited different school ties and construction teams. We had a lot of information before we made an input. You look at different sets of plans for what the kids need and what would be best as a campus,” Anzlec said.

Talamantes explained that one of the benefits of the funding is that with increased students coming to NUSD schools, it becomes more diverse, which the entire community benefits from.

“We have seen so many families move into Natomas. 95834 is one of the most diverse (Zip code areas) in the country. I think that we’ve benefited from our culture and the stories that people bring and the community that people bring in Natomas, “Talamantes said. “NUSD is performing really well, engaged with academics, and it really has a developed a positive culture in District One,”

Talamantes believes that these two bills are accurate representations of what Measure J and Measure L promised to voters in 2014 and 2018.

“I would say that it’s been exactly what we promised the community, ” Talamantes said.  “People need to know what they’re saying yes or no to. It’s so important to educate the voters. What are we going to do with the dollars? We needed to be transparent and hold ourselves accountable. I would say it’s pretty in line,”