Trustees poised to place $60M bond on November ballot

From left, Superintendent Robert Graeff and trustees Kim Lasley and Bob Stoody listen to Jon Isom discuss criteria for placing a bond measure on the ballot. Sentinel photo/Maureen Robertson

By Maureen Robertson

Ramona school district trustees fine-tuned details of a proposed $60 million bond measure Monday morning.

On July 2, they plan to review and possibly vote to place a revised proposal on the November ballot. The meeting, scheduled to start at 7 p.m., will be in the Wilson Administrative Center, 729 Ninth St.

“Ramona schools are in great need of repairs and modernization,” Board President Dan Lopez said after the Monday workshop. “Many of us have seen the deterioration of our schools, leaky roofs, grassless fields, cracked blacktops, obsolete technology, and the list goes on.”

Jon Isom of Isom Advisors reviews the proposed ballot resolution at a workshop meeting with trustees Monday. Sentinel photo/Maureen Robertson

The board needs to create a bond the community will support so “it’s their bond,” said Jon Isom of Isom Advisors, the firm advising the district.

In statewide elections this month, 25 of the 34 school bonds on ballots passed, he said, adding that of the 15 his firm worked with, 14 passed.

While voters support school bonds, they have to be “the community’s bond,” stressed Isom, saying part of the reason for Isom Advisors’ success is capturing the essence of what a community will support.

A $60 million general obligation bond would mean an additional property tax of $60 a

Board President Dan Lopez and Superintendent Robert Graeff focus on the bond discussion. Sentinel photo/Maureen Robertson

year per $100,000 of assessed value, the value the county places on the property. That amount changes and is on each year’s property tax statement from the county assessor.

The district started public talks with Isom Advisors in May 2011. A survey the firm conducted of 400 district voters in March showed support for a bond, the firm reported.

Isom’s review of the proposed resolution included, among other topics, legal requirements and criteria needed for an endorsement from the San Diego County Taxpayers Association. A stamp of approval from the taxpayers association means “they’ll put their name on the ballot argument, send out letters, let you use their logos,” said Isom.

Among taxpayer association criteria are no hand-held technology devices such as laptop computers for students, and appointing an association member to the Citizens’ Oversight Committee that will review bond expenditures, projects and plans to ensure they comply with what voters approved.

“Also, they want to make sure the district has sufficient resources to continue to maintain whatever projects you’re going to be building,” said Isom.

A detailed breakdown of proposed projects by site is another association requirement, he said.

Trustee consensus was the association’s endorsement is important.

Trustees Rodger Dohm and Dawn Perfect consider criteria for a proposed bond. Sentinel photo/Maureen Robertson

During review of the 75 words proposed for the first paragraph on the ballot, trustees agreed it is important for voters to know that all the money is for school projects. They changed “construct new classrooms” to “modernize or construct classrooms” and “no money for administrators’ salaries” to “no money for district salaries.”

Trustee Bob Stoody wants it clearly stated that the district will spend a portion of proposed bond money to repay a $25 million district loan. Not satisfied with wording on page 4 of of the proposed ballot text, he said, “I would rather be very clear to somebody what we’re voting on.”

The proposed bond has the support of the president of the district’s two unions, said Superintendent Robert Graeff.

“How do you guys feel with respect to your conversations at the local level?” Isom asked the trustees. “That’s the name of the game, guys. The survey’s there, the support statewide is there, but these are about local issues.”

Lopez sees a need for more education.

“My sphere, I believe, can be influenced and educated in a way where the majority can become very proactive in helping this bond get passed,” he said.

Few people he’s talked with are adamantly opposed, but “there are a couple people on that list of influential groups or organizations that are undecided based on different situations that are going on that have nothing to do with the bond.”

“The statewide issues were a big factor in the conversations that I had,” said Trustee Dawn Perfect, noting “it was difficult to separate the conversation between what’s going on at the state level and what we’re looking at locally.”

“Mine were probably about half,” said Trustee Rodger Dohm, who talked with church leaders and others. “…The comment is they (church leaders) believe that it’s the right thing to do and their heart’s in it. They just don’t know if their members could support it.”

To succeed, a school bond needs at least 55 percent of votes cast.

The proposed bond “will provide our community the opportunity to support our schools in a way where we will be able to control 100 percent of the funds,” Lopez said after the meeting. “I am hopeful that my board colleagues agree with me and that our community is given the opportunity to pass this much-needed bond.”

Related posts:

  1. Survey shows support for a school bond
  2. Budget talks turn to school bond for Ramona
  3. School trustees brace for the worst
  4. School board lays off 15, cuts 31 non-teaching jobs
  5. Deadline to request mail ballot for June 8 election is June 1

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Posted by Maureen Robertson on Jun 27 2012. Filed under Featured Story, News, Ramona, Schools. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

11 Comments for “Trustees poised to place $60M bond on November ballot”

  1. Local

    I am going to register to Vote, so I can Vote against this Bond. The school district needs to stop wasting money.

    • Ramona homeowner

      Hey Mr. Local, do you own a home in Ramona? If this bond doesn't pass you can tie a rock to your property values and watch them sink even deeper than they are now. The high school and middle school are both dumps. Dumpy schools don't attract families with money or businesses. Its of financial benefit to the whole community to have quality schools whether you have kids in them or not.

  2. sandra j

    I will oppose this bond, and will encourage others to as well. Even though the money it raises might not be used to pay district salaries, I have a feeling I'm going to end up doing that somehow. Between that and the rural fire tax I've had enough for now.

    The school's infrastructure is more than adequate, particularly considering the declining enrollment trend that shows no sign of reversing. Two schools still have that new campus smell, and at least one more should be considered for closure.

    Let's see how the district handles the current budget mess before making matters worse. And let's see the Sentinel report on Isom's scrape.

  3. Lisa

    While I agree the board should look at all avenues for cutting the budget, the state's contributition to local school district's is shrinking. Even with a lot of cuts in admistrative salaries and laying off administration in a top heavy school district, there still will be an enormous need for us(citizens of Ramona) to keep our local school district solvent. No amount of budget cuts will put us in the black long term. Most home owners will pay between $10 and $ 20 a month more on their property taxes. Aren't our future generations worth that?
    Lisa Bried

    • sandra j


      From the prior Sentinel article at:

      "Presented with three choices — $60, $50 or $45 per $100,000 of assessed property value per year ­— respondents preferred $45, with 49.5 percent in favor. When the options were presented per month — $5/$4/$3.75 — that favorable response was nearly 8 percent higher, 60.4 percent."

      Most residents preferred the $45 per $100k assessed figure, which equates to $3.75 per month. Your suggestion that 3 to 6 times that amount ought to be adequate is unlikely to fly with most homeowners. It sounds like RMWD is about to take a similar bite from us all. Lord knows if we don't have quality water, our property values are bound to suffer more.

  4. just wondering

    What good is a brand spanking roof and smooth black top going to do when there are no teachers or support personnel left to educate our kids?

  5. Lisa Bried

    Ramona homeowner is right. Your property values will go down even further if we don't take care of the local school system. Most of the houses built up here in the last 15-20 years were attracting home buyers because Ramona had a growing reputation for good schools. If we don't protect the schools and the high caliber of education we have here, we can kiss our property values good-bye. Also people who currently have renters will want to find better districts for their children and they will leave, further devasting home values.. Our school district effects more than just students and the parents. It effects all of us.

  6. SDCE Resident

    Did anyone read the article? The school District is defunct, the state will most ikely have to take them over, part of the $60 million goes to repay a $25 million loan and we are expected to give them more money? It is like giving a drug addict more drugs …crazy. Once the School District is back in the black and being run correctly, then they can ask for more of our money.

  7. Ramonafan

    Let's see…my water bill will be going up about 16% between Ramona Water and MWD,
    SDGE wants more money to pay for fires and Sunrise Powerlink, I have to double pay on my fire protection, and my DMV fees have gone up amost 50% over the last 5 yrs. When is it going to stop? The School DIstrict overbuilt and is in a mess because of it. I 'm sorry, but enough is enough. Shift students to the newer schools and board up the old ones if we're short of kids. I'm tired of paying for inflated adminstrator salaries. I've already kissed my property values goodbye courtesy of the fradulent US banking system AND helped bail them out. Sorry – I'm short on cash. Bare-bones the administrators and eliminate some sports. Expand the 4H agricultural programs and co-op the vacant farmland around here, sell fresh produce and oat hay locally, and the kids can learn a viable trade and make money for schools. Innovation – an aniquated American term not found in the modern American brain.

    • Ramona homeowner

      There is only ONE jun ior high school and ONE high school. What do you propose be boarded up and closed?

      You betcha the administration is top heavy and pay is over inflated.. That should be part of our planning as we vote for school board members. Do you vote? If not, you have nobody to blame other than yourself for not electing representatives who reflect your views. Even when compensation and staffinf is fixed itt is pocket change. Yes, there has likely been some mismanagement. The community can get invioved in the citizen oversight panel to ensure that the money is spent as intended.

      I hate additional taxes. I'm unemployed and hurting. Yes our property values are shot, but want them to get better? They won't if our schools are bad, you can count on that.

  8. Andy Harvey

    I did read the article. Part of the the loan is to pay for the new schools at Hanson and the Community school. Both of these projects were approved by the 2004 administration and board. In my view they are what got us into this mess. The present finacial officer is to blame as well. It is my opinion they should be the ones to pay the bill because of their lack of planning! However, the community did get those buildings and the community must pay for them. If the state takes over it will be a hugh black eye for our community. We will not be able to find home buyers or renters to come up here. People will beigin to leave and the local buisiness owners will really feel it, many will have to fold.
    We must think ahead. What is done is done. The question the bond poses is, are we ready to step it up and help our community with a bond. I am not in favor of more taxes by any stretch of the imagination, but sometimes its just the lesser of two evils.
    I urge the board to find the most affordable bond measure possible for the homeowners of Ramona.

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