Ramona teachers endorse one-year contract settlement; district wants three-year agreement

Fact-finding judge recommends three-year agreement

By Maureen Robertson

In an after-school general membership meeting held April 11, an overwhelming majority of Ramona Teachers Association members approved their bargaining team’s recommendation to accept a 4.4 percent pay cut from six unpaid furlough days, plus some cuts in health and welfare benefits.

“Ramona teachers accept these cuts based on the fact finder’s recommendations for settling the 2012-2013 contract, so it’s time now for the district to follow suit,” said RTA President Donna Braye-Romero.

The approval came after a 24-page fact finding report not expected to be released to the public until next week, if then, was uploaded to the RTA website, ramonateachers.com. Also on the website was a six-page dissenting report from Margaret Wallace, RTA’s selection as one of three fact finding panel members. Ramona Unified selected John Gray from School Services of California to represent it on the panel, and Bonnie Castrey served as the impartial judge.

The fact finding panel met Feb. 27-28 after negotiations between the teachers and district failed.

Castrey sided with the district in many of her recommendations, prefacing them with background, applicable laws, how Ramona Unified compares with other districts in the region, and issues such as the district’s ability to meet its financial obligations and whether an agreement should be for just this year or for three years.

Castrey recommended an agreement that re-opens RTA’s current contract with the district as well as two additional years.

“A three-year agreement would provide a time of stabilization of the parties relationship and time to work on the serious health and welfare issues they face,” she wrote.

She recommends six unpaid furlough days this year and the next two years. Two would be staff development days and four would be student days at the end of the school year, “so that if monies allow in any school year, the days can be restored to the work year and the student’s class time.”

The district pays 100 percent of health and welfare premiums for its teachers, with costs ranging from $4,988 a year for an employee only to $17,955 a year for an employee and his or her spouse and dependents.

“The (Ramona) district is one of only two of the 22 comparison districts which pays 100 percent of health care benefits,” said Castrey.

She recommends the district pay 85 percent of benefit premiums and teachers 15 percent. She recommends the district stop giving $1,500 a year to teachers who do not participate in the health plan and that the district stop reimbursing teachers the 20 percent co-payment for hospital in-patient services. Both benefits can be re-evaluated at the end of the three-year agreement.

If the teachers and district agree to the benefit change and furlough days, Castrey recommends leaving class size as is.

Both the Public Employee Relations Board (PERB) and legal counsel have advised RTA that the district cannot legally impose wage and benefits concessions beyond the scope of bargaining for the current 2012-2013 school year, said Friday’s statement from RTA.

“Not only does this make moot any fact finder recommendations for the 2013-2014 and 2015 school years, in addition, it is irresponsible for the district to demand cuts beyond the current contract year because, although the legislature has yet to adopt a budget for next year, there will be increased revenue coming to the district,” the statement reads.

Castrey released her report and recommendations on Monday, April 8. While the district had 10 days to make the report public, there was the possibility that, as part of a settlement before April 18, one of the two parties would ask that the report stay private.

Ramona school trustees were scheduled to discuss the fact finding report — and possibly releasing it to the public —at their Tuesday, April 16, meeting. That seems a moot point now that the report is on the RTA website.

“Believe me, these cuts will hurt,” said Braye-Romero, “and especially because all of the money is now going to have to come out of our two remaining pay checks for the current school year. But all along, Ramona’s teachers have consistently offered to accept our fair share of fiscal responsibility. Now it’s up to the district to reciprocate to get this contract settled.”

RTA’s bargaining team is scheduled to meet with the district on Monday, April 15, for the first time since Castrey issued her report.

“We are hopeful that they will agree with RTA about the fact finder’s first year recommendations and settle with us now,” said Braye-Romero. “But if they do not — and especially if they try to impose concessions beyond RTA’s offered cuts, then teachers will have to consider a strike authorization vote.”

Related posts:

  1. Ramona school district, teachers union expect fact-finding report Monday
  2. School board approves emergency measures as district braces for possible teachers strike
  3. Ramona school district braces for strike
  4. Teachers protest proposed cuts; support workers review tentative agreement
  5. Teachers, district near negotiations showdown

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Posted by Maureen Robertson on Apr 12 2013. Filed under Featured Story, News, Ramona, Schools. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

17 Comments for “Ramona teachers endorse one-year contract settlement; district wants three-year agreement”

  1. Parent

    Now it is time for the school board to speak up for the students. If you don't the all the blame for the strike will fall on your heads. Tell Graeff to take the fact finder's recommendations for this year. Since district can't legally impose wage and benefits concessions beyond the scope of bargaining for the current 2012-2013 school year, they should look to pass a bond to help pay for the 2 new schools. If each teacher can sacrifice thousands of dollars in salary, surely Ramona can be a part of the solution and pass a bond, that will be a small, painless tax right off for most homeowners. Let's work together Ramona…homeowners, RUSD employees and the RUSD School Board!

    • Parent Also!

      I won't vote to approve any bond until, #1) Graeff is gone, #2) four of five board members are gone, #3) employees (especially maintenance/custodial) are made to work and not just sit around all day and make excuses for why they can't do certain things. Maintenance staff do not need to take vehicles home every night, do not need to take hours long naps at home, do not need to be using district equipment/supplies for personal use or use in a second job, yadda, yadda, yadda. This is not a joke, I've seen it and it needs to stop! You can complain about it to what is supposed to be leadership but nothing gets done because its just the "good ole boy network". Disgusting.

      • Involved Parent

        Part One I agree with you but it needs to be dealt with separately. Even if the maintence crew was trimmed down or repremanded, it still would have nothing to do with getting the money issues settles. The COP will be out there regardless.

      • Involved Parent

        Part Two: As for the board and Graeff, we as a community do need to look closely at our leaders. Now that we know it has been Graeff and his posey who have been stale mating, and the teachers have been and still are willing to make concessions, we need to take a really think about who we are electing. It seems to me the whole mess could have been resolved a long time ago if the Graeff was willing to make some form of compromise. Shame on him for dragging this all out and shame on the Board for supporting his direction. We have the power at election time, let's take it!

    • Real Parent

      Parent – BHAHAHAHAHAHA. Obviously you a teacher posing as a parent

      Everyone needs to read the PERB report. It suggestes a multi year agreement where the teachers take real pay cuts and pay for their benefits. Of course the teachers support a 4% cut and a future bond. A 4% cut only pushes the problem out one year and a BOND CANNOT BE USED TO PAY SALARIES!

      The RUSD administration and BOARD have an oppertunity to fix the problem. DO IT!

      If the teachers choose greed and they strike THAT IS ON THE TEACHER'S HEADS not the students, not the parents and not RUSD.

      RTA needs to face reality and stop using the kids as an excuse! Budening homeowners with an additional tax that does nothing to solve the problem is just crazy!

      • Parent Also!

        Real Parent. Your not even close! Never have been a teacher, never wanted to be. Just see all the waste and abuse that I/we get to pay for, all the way around. And the teachers getting 100% of their medical paid for, ridiculous! Even the suggestion of 15% is ridiculous. Do the teachers need to make concessions? You bet! But so does the administration. You can not effectively lead when you say one thing and do another!

        • Teacher

          The combined health benifits and salary of the Ramona teachers is called the compensation package. Ramona teachers have agreed to be paid lower than the teachers in other SD districts to make up for the fact our district still pays our health insurance. We have not had any raises in over 5 years, including any cost of living allowances. We agreed to have the lower salary to make up for the cost of the insurance. So by not having any increases in salary and being some of the lowest paid teachers in SD County, we really have been paying for our insurance.

      • Involved Parent

        You are wrong. I am a parent and I know that if a contract is being settled for any period of time, it only has to be settled for the stated contract period. There is no need to negotiate further unless both parties agree to it.
        I am involved with the school and I know the teachers in no way want to stike. They want to keep their students engaged and on track until the end of the year.
        You must be admin or a school board member/family member to be defending the school board and Graeff. The district will save money if there is a strike and the truth is Graeff want it his way or no way. The teachers want to settle and have made big concessions. The teachers want to move forward.

        • Rational Ramona

          @ Involved, the teachers want to take less concessions than the classified (support staff). How is THAT fair when we get paid less?
          The truth of the matter is, that once you get to the top of your salary range, whether in public or private companies, you don't get raises. Thats how the system works.

          • guest

            Classified have a "me too" clause in their contract. If the teachers settle for less than the classified, they (classified) will get the same percentage as teachers. I even understand they will get reimbursed for the difference.

            And yes teachers do make more than custodians, secretaries and bus drivers. Didn't anyone tell you when you were in HS that if you go to college, get a degree and have a professional career, you will make more money than if you get a job that requires a HS diploma? Why is it the teachers' fault that the classified employees took that career path?

      • Tax Payer in Ramona

        How is it greed if they are each offerning to take several dollors in pay cuts to put directly back into the school district's general fund?

  2. Jane Tanaka MD

    I hope the Board/Admistration and Teacher's Union settle. A strike would be disillusioning to the students as well as the community. I hope we dont go through this yearly.
    I hope that Dr G would reconsider, and donate his raise back to RUSD.
    Have dropped the formal challenge to him for this, but am still setting aside the equivalent of his raise (1.5K per month for next 3 years according to SD UT) , while Friends of Ramona Unified Schools is formed and obtains 501c3 status. Donors could designate $ toward deferred maintenance/health/safety issues OR toward the Certificate of Participation ( the $ 34 million debt). Not to anyone's salary. This would be voluntary. No Bond ( Although $1 per day from 50% of Ramona households would be equivalent to the Bond) . Those who want to help can do so, and have a say in what the money is used for. Those who dont want to help, dont.

  3. Rational Ramona

    Read the fact finding report and see what the neutral chair recommended. It says that the District needs more that what RTA is willing to give.

    • Involved Parent

      Are you reading the real fact finding report or the Graeff's commentary (report given at the board meeting) for your source of info. Always go to the primary source. Graeff's interpretation is very slanted.

      And if it is what you choose to believe, I ask why is it the teachers' job to be the solution to Bob Graeff's mess? The are willing to pitch in and with thousands of dollars coming from each teacher's paycheck. The teachers are willing to be a part of the solution, just not all of the solution. The district still has properties to sell and other options. The citizens of the community need to be part of the solution as well.

  4. guest

    Not a neutral chair. She is a former school board member.

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