In support of $66 million school bond

By John Rajcic

My personal philosophy is anchored in optimism. Life begins to end when we are silent about things that matter.

Education matters. We live in a very competitive, complex and challenging world. The importance of a formal education is paramount.

Our current school board and past school boards have been known to celebrate a “balanced budget” as deferred maintenance skyrocketed, as projected revenue loss due to declining enrollment was evident, and sorely needed equipment was not acquired. Not to mention failure to establish adequate reserves to pay off long-term debt. This is a failing of boards and superintendents. Now it is time to “pay the piper.”

Walk through the schools, talk to students, parents, teachers, classified staff and attend a board meeting. It readily becomes apparent our schools should be brought into the 21st century. Much emphasis is being placed on the need for the $66,000,000 bond measure.

The school board seems to be sensitive about using bond funds for salaries. “No bond funds will be used for salaries” has become the board’s mantra. This is disingenuous. The bond funds will be used for equipment, deferred maintenance and debt retirement that frees up General Fund Revenue so the district can pay respectable teacher and classified staff salaries. Honesty is the best policy!

The school building and equipment are not the constants that make the significant difference, as important as they may be. It is the teacher. The classified staff is also a necessity for a well managed school. Are teachers over-compensated and are their retirement plans excessive? I think not!

As an aside, the former county superintendent retired at $281,034 or 107 percent of his salary. The county school board “spiked” his salary. Now comes the executive cirector of the California School Board Association (CSBA). He was paid $540,000, which included a $175,000 bonus. He also used a CSBA credit card at a casino for $11,000. These are aberrations and should not occur again. Such unconscionable actions had a very negative impact upon the public’s view of the compensation and retirement system of the classroom teacher. These actions “poisoned the well,“ so to speak, for the classroom teacher.

The teachers in our district have an average-annualized monthly salary of $5,791. Teachers contribute 8.25 percent of their salary to their retirement account with the California State Teachers Retirement System (CalSTRS). CalSTRS has nothing to do with Social Security.

Under CalSTRS a teacher earning $6,700 monthly, retiring at 63 with 26 years service will receive a monthly pension of $3,911.

I have never met a person who could not proudly speak of their favorite teacher or teachers and the positive impact they had on their lives. It is time that we all pay attention, get involved and invest in our schools. When a school is being built or renovated, parents are known to pay much more for a house to get their children into that school’s attendance area. Invariably the first question asked by house buyers, particularly families with school age children, moving into a community is “what about the schools?” Good schools enhance property values and the quality of life in any community. I remember a few years back when I drove my 92-year-old mother by the old elementary school on Hanson Lane, she looked at the deteriorating “relocatables” and made the comment, “Ramona must not care about their kids.” Family and faith coupled with quality schools make a positive difference. Sound financial management is basic to any organization.

John Rajcic is a Ramona resident.

Related posts:

  1. Survey shows support for a school bond
  2. School district needs community support
  3. Trustees ask voters for $66 million
  4. Budget talks turn to school bond for Ramona
  5. School district proposes to reduce employee benefits or cut pay by 7%

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Posted by Maureen Robertson on Aug 1 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 “In support of $66 million school bond”

  1. sandra j

    Dr Rajcic,
    In reading your commentary, I have a hard time correlating the headline with the content. You provide almost no support for this bond other than what I believe is it's largest fault: that most of the money will ultimately go to salaries by offsetting other general fund expenses. When I say most, that's taking into account that nearly half of the bond proceeds won't lead to any improvements at all; $25 million is designated to pay off loans that were already taken out to pay for improvements that weren't needed and haven't help the district's situation at all. I agree with your comments regarding the failings of the past and present superintendents. What have they done to show that they can now manage the district within their means? They already have this money spent (literally!) and it still doesn't address the district's larger budget concerns. During a time of declining enrollment the district needs to to cut back, but that is doesn't jive with their growth model so they spin it as a crisis instead. Defining and executing strategies to improve educational efficiencies is the move into the 21st century I would like to see. If the administration can demonstrate substantial cost reductions and operate within the generous funding they have and continue to enjoy, perhaps their salaries, spiked or not, might be justified. Until then, passing this bond looks to me like fighting a fire with gasoline.

    Lastly, I hope you were able to set your mother straight on Ramona's concern for our kids. Those relocatables, staffed by extraordinary teachers, yielded outstanding test scores from some remarkable students. Don't let her believe otherwise.

    • Hi your points are well taken….I tried different approaches to get elected to the board…
      Politicians tend to be indirect/hedge/obscure(obscurant) at times!!!! .4 superintendents for 6,000 students is hard to justify… we also must more fully embrace technology/digital learning.
      I am an old guy….I left education years ago….I have been a sub in Poway the past 6 years. I do believe architecture sets a "mood" …..
      I am a candidate for the board go to jrajcic.com……if you think I could make a difference, I would appriciate your support. thanks for your comments rajcic (like magic)

      • sandra j

        Dr Rajcic,
        Perhaps a new approach you might consider in seeking a seat on the board would be to take a different (hopefully better) position than the present members on key issues such as this bond. That is one way I believe you could make a positive difference and gain my support. The present board unanimously approved placing the bond measure on the November ballot. It's not clear to me what you would do differently, but in your commentary above, I sense more than a little trepidation in embracing it. If that is correct, I hope you will take a more definitive stand against it and clarify your own proposals to strengthen our district and continue the exceptional education Ramona schools provide.

        • Hi, I want to get elected this is my last shot…..the bottom line is that Ramona with its $27million COP (Certificate of Deposit ) and Poway with its CAB(capital appreciatation Bonds )were instigated by the respeictive boards to circumvent having a bond election) so they could recieve funds from the state ( a sort of matching thing..You do this and the State willl do this…). I am defintely against the way the board did this….attend a board meeting and try to get a reponse to your concern…it never happens….I made several attempts to get the board to enagage me at board meetings…they give you 3 minutes and that is it ..never a dialogue..even if there are only 2 or 3 at the meeting(other than employees..

  2. Enough is Enough!

    Please, noone in thier right mind is going to support this. The School District is structurally flawed and that needs to be addressed first.

    This is an extremely expensive bandaid that does nothing to fix the problem. Elections fix problems in school boards. I will vote for a real fix after the next election, not an additional loan and cosmetic fix for a school district that is struggling to make payroll.

    It is CRAZY that the school board had the nerve to ask this community for more money when their performance has lead them to insolvency and state take over.

    • Guest

      Agreed. And I guess the tattered blue tarp that is hanging over the entrance at the Ramona Community School on Hanson Lane and Ramona Street is supposed to make us think this school needs this money for improvements. It does not. It just means the lazy employees they keep employed aren't going to do anything they don't want to do and continue to draw a paycheck. VOTE NO! This is ridiculous!

      • Fed Up!

        And still the blue tattered tarp remains. Just shows there is no initiative or drive by the RUSD when someone posts a comment like the one above. You know they all read and follow these posts yet there is no concern on their part to clean things up. When you comment about it to the employees they just say it's not their job, it's someone else's. Jeez people. Quit being so lazy. Just goes to show why you should vote no when they have no concern about how a school looks. Unbelievable!

    • Local

      I COMPLETELY AGREE WITH YOU. This Bond must not pass.

  3. Solar1

    The new fire fee, the sales tax increase, now a school bond. Yea right.

    • Hi….politicians tend to hedge/obscure at times…..I am a candidated for the school board. we do not need 4 superintendents for 6,000 students…

      I ran for the board several times….telling the board that collective bargaining is a two way street….sound financial management is basic to any organization….
      Your position is understood. John Rajcic wwwjrajcic.com

  4. Steve Daar

    Just came across this article & realized it was originally published some time ago. What ended up happening with the bond & it’s relation to CalSTRS?

    Thanks!

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