Report fails to resolve Ramona’s teacher, district clash

By Maureen Robertson

A fact-finding report many had hoped would resolve differences between Ramona teachers and the school district hasn’t.

The report, scheduled to be released to the public at the trustees’ meeting Tuesday, April 16, has been on the Ramona Teachers Association website since last week. Also on the RTA website at is a dissenting report from the California Teachers Association member representing RTA on the fact-finding panel.

Teachers planned to rally in front of district offices before the Tuesday school board meeting after negotiations on Monday failed.

“The chairperson of the fact finding panel looking into the financial condition of the Ramona Unified School District has reported the district’s ability to continue to pay salaries, health and welfare benefits of teachers and other district employees is ‘not sustainable,’” Superintendent Robert Graeff said.

The district and teachers union participated in a fact-finding hearing overseen by the state Public Employment Relations Board in late February after about 18 months of negotiations failed. Salaries and benefits are at the heart of the controversy.

Both sides presented their positions to the three-member panel comprised of a district representative, an RTA representative, and an impartial chair. After reviewing the information, the chair, Bonnie Castrey, wrote the report.

In her report, Castrey states, “the chair concludes that the district meets its heavy burden of proof and does have an inability to continue to pay personnel costs including salaries and benefits at the current levels.”

Related posts:

  1. Ramona school district, teachers union expect fact-finding report Monday
  2. Ramona teachers endorse one-year contract settlement; district wants three-year agreement
  3. Ramona school district braces for strike
  4. School board approves emergency measures as district braces for possible teachers strike
  5. District declares impasse in teacher talks

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Posted by Maureen Robertson on Apr 16 2013. Filed under Archive, News, Ramona. 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.

32 Comments for “Report fails to resolve Ramona’s teacher, district clash”

  1. Michele Barrameda

    It's very sad and upsetting to find out that the people we elected, the people that are suppose to have our children's best interest at heart DO NOT!!!
    Ramonas Superintendent Robert W. Graeff's arrogance and rudeness during last nights Board Meeting really got me fired up. The lack of respect he showed the parents and teachers while they voiced their concerns through his body lanuage and facial expressions was completly unacceptable. MR. GRAEFF YOU ARE A BIG JERK (keeping it clean) and I hope that Ramona pulls together and has you removed or at the very least makes sure your not re-elected.

  2. Guest

    I was at the board meeting last night and I must say that it was the behavior of the community attendees and comments like Ms. Barrameda’s that make me cringe. Yes, Dr. Graeff was arrogant and aloof. But how did the audience behave? Weeping, yelling, name-calling. Insults were repeatedly hurled at him and the board. Ineffective speakers wasted precious three minutes rambling off-topic. Demands that teachers take no cuts at all – it was so absurd that anyone would make such an unrealistic statement that I almost laughed out loud. The community turned that meeting into a circus by behaving like a bunch of ignorant hicks. So that’s how Dr. Graeff treated us. Don’t like what’s happening? Go after members of the board (THEY are elected, and then appoint a super, Ms. Barrameda, so do your homework before you rant inaccuracies and discredit yourself) and require that they explain their positions to you. Get off your butts and vote them out at the next election. Go after RTA reps and require that they share their negotiation points so you know where they stand. But understand this – neither side is innocent here. Both have been spinning the issues in their favor, twisting facts, and failing to release information publicly. Get it together Ramona, if you want to do something about this standoff, show some professionalism, start acting rationally and leave your mob mentality at home.


      For the record, not once in last night's board meeting, or throughout our bargaining, have the teachers demanded to take no cuts. We are fully prepared to take cuts, and have offered very serious cuts. The district has been the demanding one here and they refuse to consider anything but their own opinions.

      As for behavior, how about counting how many times Graeff rolls his eyes, or how he actually had the audacity to claim that he has no knowledge of a potential strike. (How about that resolution you pushed through or the subs that were trained last week Bob?) I'll admit that there was some rude behavior from audience members, but these people hold our future in their hands and are treating this like a game that they want to win at all costs. Those of us at risk to lose our homes deserve to get a little cranky don't you think?

      • um wrong

        Lose your house? My family lost about 40% of our income when the economy first went south. We locked it down, sold the toys we'd taken years to afford, and changed the way we lived. You want to talk about loss, lose this job via a strike or whatever, then go get another job. THAT will bring you back to reality about what it's like for the rest of us. If all RUSD employees paid what I pay for healthcare every month, saving the district that much, problem solved. If you pay any increase in that healthcare, like the rest of us, over the next few years, district back to running in the black. I'd suggest the recent verification of this 100% district paid benefit MAY have dilluted some of your community support. IE leverage.

        • um wrong

          And hear me here, the above comment is right on target. Be VERY careful the face you put on your cause. Ranting rhetorical tirades based on personal attack are very bad for your position. Fix the budget now, fix the elected body later. And to note to the Supe and Board: you are screwing with people's lives, right or wrong. One of you is paid quite well to be a professional. ACT lke it. You Board members, you are elected offcials. If you can't be respectful NOT MATTER WHAT IS BEING SAID, don't run again.

        • Teacher

          Even David Ostermann knows NO AMOUNT OF TEACHER CUTS…NOT EVEN 50% will get this district out the its current financial problems. That is why teachers find an 8% cut to be unreasonable. And when the district starts with asking for 13% then goes down to 8% then back up to 11% then down to almost 6% now back up to 7.8%….REALLY?!? And community members feel like teachers should trust this? Until you know that actual budget situation inside and out, please refrain from making comments like, "If all RUSD employees paid what I pay for healthcare every month, saving the district that much, problem solved. If you pay any increase in that healthcare, like the rest of us, over the next few years, district back to running in the black." Unless you know that to be true. Negotiations is about making a compromise. Maybe the teachers of Ramona need to enlighten the public of the offers they have tried to make so we can all see what a power trip this has become. If it is really about having no money…then the school board should NOT be offering the superintendent a pay raise for the next 3 years while HE and the board are asking for HUGE cuts. AND HE should not be accepting the raise….if it really about having no money. My husband and I have worked in this district for almost 30 years when you add our years of service together. EVERY year, we work jobs in the summer to balance our budget, and with these cuts, we will figure it out too. We are dedicated to our profession, give all we have every day of the week (including weekends) to this profession! It is not about the money anymore, it is about the principle. We will make cuts in our budget and get second jobs, and never once feel sorry for ourselves. BUT, know this, WE DESERVE BETTER TREATMENT THAN THIS FROM OUR SCHOOL BOARD AND OUR LEADER. Our hit will be double, but we also get double the pleasure every day we enter our classrooms and do what we LOVE to do….TEACH!

        • teacher

          This is not true "um wrong". The classified and certified employees could give up 50% of their salaries and the district would still not be in the black.. It is unrealistic to think reducing salaries will fix the mess the board and super have on their hands. They need to wake up and start thinking outside of the box.
          Oh and by the way, each teacher will be losing on average $5500 in the next two months. Also, they will not be paid over the summer and then they are looking at a total of $18,000-$20,000 over the next 3 years! This is heartless, irresponsible and totally unreasonable. Especially when neighboring school districts pay $6000 more anually to each of their teachers.

    • Guest

      Demands that teachers take no cuts at all??????????? When did you hear that??????????? Teachers are willing to take cuts!!!!!!!!!!! Get your facts straight!!!!!!!!!! We have a school board that gives the superintendent a raise and a superintendent that accepts the raise. How is that FAIR AND REASONABLE? Going broke is not the real issue here. Oh….and thank you Dr. Graeff and the rest of the school board for another warm welcome. Standing for over 2 hours while you all sit in padded, comfy chairs.

      • guest

        My facts are straight. During the public comment section of the meeting there was a gentleman who called out of turn "teachers shouldn't take ANY pay cuts!!" Some people made an affirmative gesture or noise. Several of us rolled our eyes and one near me questioned what planet he might be from. I dont know who he was, but my point is that if the teachers and their union want to be viewed as serious and rational, they need to conrtol their supporters so they don't spew vitriol in a public forum.

    • Michele Barrameda

      I agree that the crowd did have some hecklers, but is that not to be expected at this long drawn out point? Their entire livelihood is being threatened and not having control of what happens to your own future can cause a bit of frustration wouldn’t you think? I do! Teachers are making many suggestions on how to help the situation at hand and NEVER has one of them been “take no cuts at all”.

      Mr. Graeff‘s rude and condescending attitude during the meeting was inappropriate and unacceptable. Mr. Graeff is in a leadership position. With all his years of experience he should knows how to act in situations such as this. You stated that his attitude was justified because Ramona was behaving like a bunch of ignorant hicks… Do you even have a clue how ridiculous that statement sounds? When the public see this behavior from the very people that claim to have Ramona’s best interest at hand, we act accordingly. Respect these individuals? I think not. Respect goes to the teachers, the wonderful teachers who REALLY DO have our children’s best interest at heart every single day.

      I myself have no respect for Mr. Graeff after his pompous behavior on Tuesday. For the record I wasn’t a screaming teacher or one of those you claimed rambled on off-topic wasting precious time… as a matter of fact I didn’t even get my whole 3 stinking minutes. After a second go around I was able to ask my question & your answer Mr. Graeff was a LIE! You LIED right there in front of everyone, you LIED with your arrogant attitude and all! My question in short form was “what happens if there is a strike” his answer “There is no knowledge of a potential strike occurring at this time.” WOW OH WOW! Within the last few weeks the district’s website recently showed a job announcement for emergency substitute teachers — at $275 per day. The notice states that Ramona Unified is recruiting applicants “to serve in the event of a teacher strike.” Respect for this man and the board members who support him HELL NO!

      I am a parent who is very concerned about my child’s future and I have questions that I want answered and as a parent I deserve and expect those questions to be answered. Everything that is going on directly affects my child. It’s my child’s world that soon may or may not be turned upside down. And unfortunately the parents are at the bottom of the list when it comes to receiving information and so we are forced to gather up all we can on our own from other parents, friends and through the local paper which of course is all hear say & opinions and this doesn’t give us any actual binding answers that we are seeking, which leaves us wondering what the heck is going on? This is one big vicious circle of craziness.

      • guest

        My last comment on this point is that if you want to be viewed as reasonable and professional, you don't heckle. Ever. No matter what the behavior is of your adversary. Take the high road. For the rest of your outrage, channel it into something productive. Get on the RTA and district websites. Download all the public documents there, so your research and you will find that the district's offer is actually closer to the fact finder's recommendations than RTA. Bottom line is that members of this community need to stop watching, spend some personal time, and put pressure on BOTH sides to come to a compromise. It's in everyone's best interest because f this district goes bankrupt the quality of our children's education will suffer and you can tie a rock to our barely recovering property values. Can you agree to any of that?

  3. guest

    I was at the board meeting last night too. A couple of things stuck out for me.
    1) Why did Graeff paraphrase the report? Why can't we see the original document instead of the fact finding report according to Graeff?
    2) Could it be that the board has really convinced themselves that the teachers will somehow be ok if they place a 9% cut on each one? Either they have somehow chosen to believe this or they are the most heartless, arrogant people in Ramona and have no place sitting on a board in the people business.
    3) None of the teachers and community members were asking for a zero percent cut for the teachers. It is obvious the teachers accept that they will be giving up some of their salary.
    It is really baffling to me why the board and Graeff act this way. Why are they not working harder to reduce the percentage of cuts for all the employees? They are in a position of power but they are not using their power for good. They are using their power to tear down and destroy our district's educational system. A recall is definitely in order.

  4. Rational Ramona

    Guest, 1. the report is available; just go to and look on the right column for the link to the report. Please read the whole report. It will explain why the District feels it needs to ask for the cuts that have been requested repeatedly for the last 18 months.
    2. Again, I wonder why no one feels it is ok for the classified staff and administrative staff to take cuts but the teachers should be exempt? That is not only unfair but it is unreasonable. Their salaries and benefits cost is over 50% of those budgets.
    3. And, do you really think they would go through all this if it wasn't necessary? Do you think this is some kind of game? My God, this district is in such dire straits financially. No one wants to lay off anyone or impose unnecessary cuts. The level of stress for ALL employees in this district is off the charts. You have painted the senior administrative staff and board members as evil beings which is simply not true. They are trying to hold this district together during the toughest time it has ever seen. Are they perfect? No. Do they make mistakes? Yes. If we had different people in their seats that would not change the financial situation we are in right now.

    • Guest

      Once again, check your facts. NO TEACHER HAS EVER SAID TEACHERS SHOULD TAKE NO CUTS. And, the classified staff have a "me too" clause. So, yes, they have taken cuts sooner than teachers, but once the teachers settle, the classified will get back what they have lost IF their cuts were MORE than the cuts teachers end up with.

      • Rational Ramona

        You are right, the teachers are willing to take cuts, but not enough to save this district. That is the problem.

        • teacher

          Even it they were to cut employees checks by 50% they would still not have enough to solve their financial problems. They need to be problem solvers and find ways that will really help. Sell property, combine two elementary schools, pass a bond (after they get rid of Graeff, because the public might actually support a bond if he was gone). All those things together will add up to solving the problem.

    • guest

      Why do you think anyone feels that it is ok for classified to take cuts? The classified staff voted for their cuts. That's in the past and they did it to themselves. But no one feels that they should have had to take the cuts they did except the board and the administration. The teachers had nothing to do with the classified contract. They didn't sit in on negotiations for it. They didn't vote on it. They can't be blamed for the ratification. Blame the ones who did this to you.

    • guest

      If we had different board members and administration they would be looking for solutions. The present adminstration and board just see the salaries of the classified and certified stafff and looks at it with greed in their eyes. They see an easy way to get money. They are arrogent and smug and they obviously are not looking at any other solutions. They are taking the easy way even if it means screwing over their employees. The administration and board demands character education in our schools but they are showing very poor character. Graef gets and F in honesty, compassion and justice. He also shows no respect for the community because he twists the truth.

    • Sally

      The new board would have read the report in its full unedited Graeff commentary version and realised that Graeff is stretching the true intent of of the report. It was meant to convey a compromise, not a one side wins one side losed approach.

  5. Tim

    What should the board members be doing differently? What would new board members do? They would tell Graeff they value to teachers and to look into other avenues for raising money. They would tell Graeff if you have to make cuts in salaries make them the least amount possible to all employees. They would want to see some real problem solving on the part of Graeff. In other words they would stop acting like they are ok with this and call for some action. And they certainly would not have given Graeff a raise until he did come up with some real solutions.

  6. Theresa

    If the board does not want ths community to think they are just a bunch of bobble head dolls who doné have a brain between the lot of them, they need to step up and get some action out of Graeff. Them just giving a yes vote to him on every matter and the giving him a raise doesn't show a lot of backbone or intellegence.

  7. Bill

    The copies of the report that he handed out at the board meeting this past week are obviously the version he wants spread around. Plus Graeff put out a press release stating his version of the facts. Do you really think people are going to go digging and read the full 50+ page report? I know he hopes they don't.

    • Rational Ramona

      Bill, its not 50 pages – its 24 pages and you can skip the legal mumbo jumbo and start reading at page 8. Even if it was 50 pages, the fact that you are unwilling to take the time to find the truth is problematic.

      • Bill

        You are right it is 24 pages, I apologize. But my point is Graeff did re-report the the fact finding report using his very biased intrepretation. He gave it to the press and the school board and he sent a press release out as well that was not entirely accurate.

  8. guest

    - Don't rely on either side to feed you the truth
    - Read the fact finder's report yourselves
    - Read the RTA dissenting report and meeting presentation
    - Read the RUSD imposition notification
    - It's all on their websites
    - Compare the numbers they are both presenting
    - Call your school board members
    - Call the RTA president
    - Tell them you demand compromise

  9. Rational Ramona

    Go to the District website: and read the report. The whole report. It is a PDF copy of the legal report filed by the panel neutral. See what the neutral panel member said regarding the District's ability to pay and what recommendations she made for the District. If you can't do that, then you don't want the truth.

    • guest

      And keep in mind the neutral panel member, Bonnie Castrey, is a former school board member. She sees things from that point of view.

  10. Hmm

    The Fact Finders Report says a total of 5.1% cut in 2012-2013, 7.01% in 2013-2014 and 7.01% in 2014-2015. How in the world did Graeff see fit to take 7.81 % in 2012-2013, and 9.4% in both 2013-2014 and 2014-2015? That's quite a stretch. Why did they have a Fact Finding Report again? Wasn't it to get an impartial view? Is this how Graeff solves problems? Sounds like he is just creating bigger ones.

  11. B. Ingalls

    We hesitate to criticize the classified staff. We know how hard they work to support teachers in the classroom.
    We're sorry their union didn't investigate the district's findings; we're sorry they took what was offered instead of bargaining.
    But, it's not our fault. It's the district's. The district increased the superintendent's salary, didn't look at any avenues to increase revenue or decrease expenditures, it distorted the Fact Finder's Report and refused to negotiate. It hid nearly a million dollars in assets from the Fact Finder.
    Why do good people believe RUSD? If they sided with teachers and the community, we'd force the district to bargain in good faith rather than waiting for the courts to force it to do what's right!
    And…there is that "me too" clause…

    • big bird

      "Why do good people believe RUSD? If they sided with teachers and the community…"

      I think it's because the RTA keeps adding 3 years' worth of cuts and presenting them as a percentage of one year's salary. You claim you're faced with a 27% cut and keep calling it "draconian." In reality, it's more like 7.8%, which most of us consider "minimal." I wouldn't be so quick to believe the teachers and the community are on the same side here. Most of those yelling (in your case, it was closer to threatening) at the board members were teachers. Most of those rating the comments here represent the community. I don't see a lot of correlation.

  12. Karen

    B. Ingalls. Surely you know the reason CSEA was forced into accepting cuts that are deeper than those currently imposed on RTA is because unlike teachers our jobs are not guaranteed. In other words, we are not protected like you are therefore we had to settle in order to stop the bleeding. For 18 months now we have been doing our jobs as well as the jobs of those who were sacrificed. To suggest that our negotiating team didn't do their due dilligence is insulting. As of now it seems both units ended up in the same place. Furthermore, classified workers have carried on these last 18 months doing more with less while behaving in a professional manner. No talk of sandbagging or doing only the minimum required by our contract. Can you say the same about your membership?

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