Trustees ask voters for $66 million

School bond bid slated for Nov. 6 ballot

By Maureen Robertson

In a unanimous vote, Ramona Unified School District trustees agreed to place a $66 million bond bid on the Nov. 6 ballot.

If the measure receives the support of at least 55 percent of district voters casting ballots, property owners will see an increase in their property tax bills of about $60 per $100,000 of assessed value.

The money will be spent on specific projects at each of the district’s nine school sites and the district office. It also will help repay a $25 million district loan and will cover items such as project planning, assessment reviews, environmental studies, inspection and permit fees, and costs associated with borrowing.

Kerrigan Bennett with Stradling Yocca Carlson & Rauth Attorneys at Law in San Francisco discusses details of the proposed $66 million school bond Ramona trustees approved for the Nov. 6 ballot. Sentinel photo/Maureen Robertson

The 75-word question that will be on the Nov. 6 ballot reads: “To improve the quality of education; repair/replace leaky roofs; increase student access to computers and modern technology; make health, safety and handicapped accessibility improvements; replace deteriorating portable classrooms; and improve energy efficiency; shall Ramona Unified School District acquire, construct, repair, equip school facilities by issuing $66 million of bonds at legal rates, with independent citizens’ oversight and NO money for employee salaries and all funds spent only on Ramona schools?”

Included in the voter information pamphlet voters will receive before the election will be the detailed project list and information about the citizens’ oversight committee state law requires the trustees to appoint. State law also requires annual independent audits.

The concluding paragraph reads: “No administrator salaries: Proceeds from the sale of the bonds authorized by this proposition shall be used only for the acquisition, construction, reconstruction, rehabilitation, or replacement of school facilities, including the furnishing and equipping of school facilities, and not for any other purpose, including teacher and school administrator salaries and other operating expenses.”

The $66 million measure trustees approved July 2 is $6 million more than the $60 million discussed at their June 25 workshop, but the tax rate of about $60 per $100,000 assessed value didn’t change.

During the workshop, the trustees agreed that San Diego County Taxpayers Association’s endorsement of the proposed bond is important. This necessitated a more detailed project list.

The taxpayers association asks how a district will address all its needs, Jon Isom of Isom Advisors said.

“Based on the preliminary project list, we concluded there was a $6 million shortfall,” he said.

By extending the period for issuance of bonds from 6-8 years to 8-10 years, the district will be able to get another $6 million with the same tax rate, Isom said.

An advantage of a bond is the local control it provides, and the state can’t take away the money, the trustees agreed. Improvements the bond will provide will affect property values and the community positively, they agreed.

Trustee Dawn Perfect said that when she talked with realtors, they said, “Anything that schools do in a community definitely increases those property values enough that that tax increase is insignificant.”

Based on comments from the leaders of the district’s two unions, the bond has the support of the Ramona Teachers Association and the California School Employees Association.

“This is the obvious choice,” said Michael Jordan, Ramona High School teacher and RTA vice president.

“Definitely, RTA is on board to do everything it can to pass the bond,” said Grant McNiff, James Dukes Elementary School teacher and RTA’s chief negotiator.

Ramona’s CSEA President Jim King also congratulated trustees.

“I’ve been in the district for 35 years (and) have seen quite a bit of deterioration in the schools,” he said.

Referring to previous school bond bids that failed, King said, “Hopefully this one will pass and we’ll get some stuff done.”

McNiff and King, however, had some critical words for the board. The district did not include employees in insurance discussions before proposing that they start contributing a percentage of health benefit premiums, McNiff said. The district now pays all health benefit premiums for participating employees and their families.

“It was very disconcerting,” McNiff said, later adding, “I have some other things to say, but I don’t want to burst the bubble.”

The district’s support staff is working hard to prepare schools for the start of next school year, King said.

“With the budget cuts and other things going on, I don’t believe that everything is going to get done that really needs to be done at the schools,” he said.

The custodians are stressing, he said, “because they want it to be perfect for the kids, but chances are it’s not going to be.”

Related posts:

  1. Trustees poised to place $60M bond on November ballot
  2. School trustees brace for the worst
  3. Survey shows support for a school bond
  4. District declares impasse in teacher talks
  5. School district heads toward fiscal precipice, county warns

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Posted by Maureen Robertson on Jul 11 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

9 Comments for “Trustees ask voters for $66 million”

  1. David

    Vote No!! This increase, new fire tax, increase in sales tax. When does it end? Vote no!

    • Local

      I AGREE. The school district needs to learn to live on what they have. We do. This is ridiculous. I will be voting NO on this.

      • Harvey

        I agree being on a fixed income people cannot keep paying for more taxs for the districts inability to keep costs under control.

  2. Ed B

    Vote no. Pay the price just like the rest of us.

  3. Solar1

    I am tired. All these increase in taxes and my paycheck is getting smaller and bills are higher. Vote no on all tax increases.Sorry Ramona school disrict and union you should have made cuts along time ago just like the rest of us. Pay the price.

  4. Ramonafan

    Absolutlely not! All utilities are skyrocketing, there's the fire tax, more sewer fees and we're about to be hit with the pipeline along San Vicente Rd. Enough! Lay off some administration to save $. My paycheck is down 40% over 6 yrs ago.
    Vote No! The insanity of public officials must stop.

  5. sandra j

    I will vote against this bond. I cannot afford it, and frankly the district doesn't deserve it! The administration — past and present — has grossly mismanaged the generous funding they have enjoyed for years. They built 2 new schools they didn't need, one on land they couldn't buy, and almost half of this bond is to pay for them. They've left the old RCS campus rotting away (blight) hoping its value goes up. Seriously, when? They've held their salaries while sending messages of gloom and doom to the teachers, and repeatedly caved in to an insatiable union when neighboring districts saw the writing on the wall years ago and acted on it. Our students deserve a quality education, and they're getting it. Test scores and graduation percentages are as good as they've ever been. The district — administration, teachers, and support staff — needs to knuckle down like the rest of us and make due with what they've got. There is no reason it can't be done with continued academic excellence.

  6. Guest

    I didn't think you could legally pass or float a bond to cover existing debt? Could be wrong as school districts don't really have any guidelines to cover this type of thing, they can just do what they want. They udon't even have to obide by other public agency guidelines for construction, etc.

    I can just see or hear it now. If this thing passes and they get funding and find out it can't be used to cover current debt, they will just find somewhere else to spend it that only benefits the current administrators.

    Don't live here yet, maybe I don't want to.

  7. Woody Kirkman

    This story lacks the total cost of the bond. Poway Residents are now stuck with a $1 Billion bill for $105 Million bond: http://www.voiceofsandiego.org/education/article_...

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