A simple solution to a simple problem

By David Rosenberg

If you ask anyone, the budget problems our school board faces seem complex and difficult to solve. The reality could not be farther from the truth.  Perhaps the story of how we got to this point may be convoluted, but our situation is not.

The problem is quite simple: The Ramona Unified School District will receive less money from the state of California than it needs to meet its financial obligations. That is about as complicated as I can make it.

In other words, there is not enough money coming in and too much going out.  When you look at it that way, it’s really quite simple and so is the answer. Since the Board of Trustees has no power to control the amount of revenue they receive from the state, the only solution they have is to cut their expenses.

So far, so good. We have identified the problem and the solution, so how do we do that?

There are only two ways to reduce expenses. We can do it by asking our children to sacrifice or we can do it by asking the employees to sacrifice. If we cut programs like sports, arts, music, etc., then our children will be the ones making the sacrifice.  These programs are essential to a well-rounded education and teach necessary life skills such as teamwork, problem solving and creative thinking.

We can cut teachers and support staff. This solution splits the hardship between the employees and the students. Those who lose their jobs will suffer financially, those employees remaining will have to work harder to accomplish their individual tasks and, worst of all, the students will suffer through bigger class sizes and less personalized instruction.

The only other solution is to reduce employee compensation. This is the only answer that makes sense. Yes, our school district employees will suffer. No one wants to take a cut in pay, but most of us in the private sector have over the last four years. If you ask anyone who has been out of work for some time if they would have rather had a cut in pay, I’m sure the resounding answer would be yes.

This is the only solution that minimizes its effect on the students and the only solution that should be palatable to us, the citizens of Ramona.

Actions speak louder than words. By fighting this solution, the Ramona teachers union has shown, by their actions, that they do not value our children’s education as much as they do their own salaries. It is up to us, the citizens of Ramona, to support our school board and put pressure on the union to do the right thing.

After all, shouldn’t our children come first?

David Rosenberg is a Ramona resident.

Related posts:

  1. Work on Cedar Creek Falls solution
  2. Tough Times, Tough Decisions
  3. Letters to the Editor
  4. Be part of the solution
  5. Board trims non-teaching employees

Short URL: http://www.ramonasentinel.com/?p=15501

Posted by Karen Brainard on Jul 6 2012. Filed under Commentary. 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 “A simple solution to a simple problem”

  1. Justin

    How about a 4th option? We re pass prop 187, saving the state at least 50 billion per year, close the budget hole of 16 billion, leaving 34 billion to pay for schools, police, fire, etc. Class sizes go down, less is spent on public assistance and emergency services, leaving a real world surplus.

    • sandra j

      Justin,
      The teachers unions opposed prop 187 just like they oppose pay reduction. Their motto is "more, more, more!" When a 5% decline in enrollment worries them so much, can you image the panic if they required documentation from students?

  2. Frank

    Wow you guys are so right! Oh and if you are reading this and have the ability to make a written reply, thank a teacher. I really don’t see the reason for such anguish against those who are preparing our future workers and leaders. Teachers do so much and put in so much of their own money and time to better our society. I think anyone would be outraged to have a 13-18% pay cut. Considering that class sizes are growing and teachers are expected to cover more and more curriculum and provide a moral structure for students ( as a typical American family has both parents working) the idea that we should lambast the institution of education speaks to a serious flaw In our town. As a 30 year resident of Ramona I was proud to say I graduated from RHS. I often get teased for being from a redneck town but I always come to the defense of the area. With these scapegoat like comments such as the previous ones, it makes it difficult to argue against that sentiment.

    • Local

      We have to Vote NO on this School Bond. They really need to kick the Union out of the School District. This Bond will not solve the problem. The only thing it's going to do is raise taxes and the school district will continue to waste money. WE MUST VOTE NO ON THIS BOND.

    • Guest

      Aren't you a recently retired RUSD teacher Frank?

      • Frank

        No, I am not, I currently work for a school at a different district whose community banded together and passed a bond to build better schools. If we have better schools, property values go up and more people move into the community providing our local economy a boost. It is a win win situation to support education. Teachers probably do have to take a pat cut, but when you have established mortgages and expenses, a 13 -18 percent paycut is extremely exorbitant. Especially with a district that employees 1 superintendent and 2 assistants. Keep in mind these superintendents make 6 figures, more than most mayors in the country.

        • sandra j

          Frank,
          Have property values in your school's community risen since their bond measure passed? Have they even held steady?

          Regarding the pay cut, 13-18% sure beats 100%, doesn't it? That amount will likely be offset by step and column increases anyway. And is 1 superintendent considered a lot? Or two assistants? The entire Ramona administration team just took a 12% cut themselves.

          • Frank

            Well, considering the bond just passed a year ago, I think your question is hard to answer. Property values as a whole have decreased in the country due to the housing crisis and current recession. However in most cases when schools are modernized and can support 21st century learning property values do increase. I think Ramona's district serves a smaller area and we may have too much administration. I think it would be wise if we combined districts with some of the outlying schools, like Julian or Warner Springs. 13-18% is far better than 100% and you are entirely correct, and if the bond does not pass, I can see the schools with 60 students per class and a significantly reduced workforce meaning many teachers will get cut 100%. You also say "That amount will likely be offset by step and column increases anyway" and that is stretching it quite a bit. Unless a person is in the first column and then suddenly jumps to the last column, I highly doubt anyone will see a 13 % increase based on the years they work. In case you don't know, teachers don't necessarily get a raise every year, there are raises for certain, but at some point it takes a lot longer for them to increase in salary. Besides if there is a column increase, that is because the teacher has received more training or schooling. In a private sector, if you have a higher degree of training and go to courses, to assist you in your profession,this usually equates to an increase in salary which is fair. But the salary of the teacher is all public information as it should be. I think that it is good to have an open dialogue but I truly fear that our community is unwilling to support our schools and education but my hope is that they will. I will and am willing to have my property taxes increase.

          • sandra j

            Frank,
            Regarding property values, I think it is fair to say that school quality is not a dominant factor compared to other socioeconomic effects. Ramona property values have tanked in spite of excellent schools. I suspect that very few families would choose Poway over Ramona, for example, only on the basis of the effects of this bond.

            As for step and column increases, there are many examples where a one-step, one-column increase would completely offset a 13% pay reduction. See http://tinyurl.com/7956lxh for confirmation. In the private sector, more training should enable an employee to perform better, thus their higher salary is worth more to the company. What does an advanced degree allow a Ramona teacher to do better? Teach the same material in fewer school days? Handle a larger class size? Or just draw a higher salary for a few years before locking in a fatter pension?

            I am curious why you fear that if the bond fails, class sizes would increase. The bond is only for infrastructure, not salaries. What do you believe the priority should be? Wouldn't the same $60+ million be better spent on teachers than building improvements and such? Or do you believe, as I do, that passage of the bond would ultimately enable the district to increase salaries?

            I agree an open dialogue is beneficial, and while I largely disagree with you, I appreciate the discussion. I strongly oppose the bond measure and hope that our community agrees that it is unnecessary, and in fact irresponsible.

  3. Guest

    I tend to stay out of debates when I don't know all of the facts, but the one exception I take to this article is the comment about sports, arts, music, etc. being necessary for a "well rounded" education. I'm sorry, but these are extra-cirrucular activities and not essential in the workforce. If parents want their kids involved in them, they should pay for them instead of taxpayers. It's all a choice on where the cuts are made and who pays, but in any fiscal crisis, the necessary cuts are ususally made in "non essentials". Somewhere this has gotten lost.

  4. Stephan Maher

    Just a comment on training: I am hired to generate value for my employer and profit for the shareholders. If I am succesful in my salary negotiation, I may turn that into increased pay. This is based on the reality of the free market, not on some contrived sense of fairness. Why anyone should be paid more for merely taking a class or possessing a degree is beyond me. I think it reflects the backward thinking present in some of the public sector in general.

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