Behind the Front Page: Ping-Pong politics, ‘R Town’ parade

By Maureen Robertson

“R TOWN”—That’s the theme of Ramona’s 2012 Main Street Parade scheduled for Saturday, May 19, reports Parade Committee Secretary Bonnie Kirkland, Ramona High Class of 2000 graduate. Now married, Kirkland’s classmates at RHS remember her as Bonnie Donovan.

“R Town,” a nice play on the title of the Thornton Wilder play “Our Town,” means parade entrants can choose anything related to Ramona for their entry. The committee will start accepting parade applications toward the end of March, giving clubs, organizations, groups, agencies, families, individuals and politicians plenty of time to think of how they will represent Ramona in the “R Town” parade.

Check for details once the committee announces it’s accepting applications.

PING PONG POLITICS—Ramona Unified School District and other agencies under the thumb of the state continue to be victims of the whims of our state “leaders.” Retired Supt. Pete Schiff would refer to it as “trying to hit a moving target.”

One recent example is school transportation. Two months ago, Assistant Superintendent David Ostermann reported that, due to what Gov. Brown calls “triggers”—cuts as a result of the state not meeting mid-year budget projections—Ramona would lose half its transportation money from the state for the 2011-12 year. That’s about $311,000. So, after passing a budget in June based on state projections, Ostermann was back at the drawing board trying to determine the best way to either shave $311,000 from the school budget or make up the difference.

Another mid-year cut was $13 per student, or a loss of $78,000 for the rest of the school year.

At the next school board meeting, Ostermann reported that the state planned to cut all money for transportation, prompting another trip to the budget drawing board.

But not to worry. On Friday on his way home, Ostermann heard the report that the governor had signed a bill that restores all state money for school transportation.

Another “but:” Nothing’s changed for next year, “100 percent of transportation money will be cut—about $623,000,” Ostermann said on Monday.

About 1,274 of the district’s estimated 6,100 students ride school buses. Of those, 127 are special needs students, who are not charged, and 1,147 other students. Of the 1,147, a total of 493 pay for bus passes and 654 get free rides because they qualify for the free lunch program. It costs the district $2.1 million to operate its transportation department, said Ostermann. That includes everything—gas, maintenance, supplies, and employee salaries and benefits, he said.

If the state is correct this time and the district loses its state transportation money next school year, changes have to be made. But, when it comes to the state, “you never know,” commented Ostermann. “It’s a lot of ‘what ifs.’… It makes it difficult to plan.”

CALICO GHOST TOWN—If you’re in the Barstow area Presidents’ Weekend, look for the Ramona Community Brass Band in Ghost Town Park. The musicians/historic re-enactors will be participating in Calico Ghost Town Civil War Weekend. They’ll play in the parade, serenade “President Lincoln” with a concert each day and go into battle as a Marine Detachment from the USS Wabash, said Ken Serfass, band director. The public’s welcome.

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Posted by Karen Brainard on Feb 15 2012. Filed under Behind the Front Page, Columnists. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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