Come to Monday school board meeting in Ramona High’s Performing Arts Wing

By Lynn Bebinger

New info: the meeting will be at the PAW (performing arts wing) at RHS at 7 pm Monday. The amount that they want to impose is 7.8%.

To my Ramona friends and colleagues:

I am blessed.

Blessed with a loving husband of 29 years.

Blessed with three beautiful, strong and successful daughters.

Blessed with friends and colleagues that I treasure.

Blessed to have a job doing what I love.

Blessed with an amazing group of 6th graders and supportive parents.

Blessed that I have worked with two amazing, supportive, inspiring, and dynamic principals: Gary Tiegs and Pauline Leavitt.

I am also sad.

There has been so much divisiveness between classified and certificated staff. I am truly sorry that the classified settled so early and took such a big hit. Because the teachers chose to hold out for a different settlement, there have been hard feelings. I would hope that we can find a way to unite again and put our differences aside. I could not be as successful a teacher without the support, commitment and tireless efforts of our classified colleagues.

Our teachers and classified staff deserve respect and truth from the district and the board. We work hard to provide Ramona children with the best education possible. We are at school early and stay late. We work weekends to grade and copy because our school days are spent working with our students. We give up lunches to run clubs and tutor. We do this because we truly love teaching and seeing the growth in the students.

I know that the district is in dire financial straits. However, before imposing draconian cuts on the teachers (and previously on the classified employees), I have a few questions that I would like answered.

1. Why did Dr. Graeff accept a raise (in addition to the one mentioned below)?

2. Did the board allow Dr. Graeff to take a 13% raise so that he could make a symbolic 13% cut?

3. Does the public know that, although administrators took 9 furlough days, they were given 9 extra paid vacation days? Were the other two employee groups offered this?

4. I realize that the loan for the new schools is coming due. RTA asked the district to consider many alternative cost-saving measures to prevent the classified and certificated from having to take huge cuts, but the district turned everyone down. These ideas included:

a. Increased transportation fees

b. Advertising on school buses, rename stadium

c. Combine principals

d. School consolidation

e. SELL LAND/PROPERTIES NOT IN USE

f. Retirement Incentive

g. Cut non-mandated standardized testing

h. District recycling program

i. Renegotiate the COP loan

j. Redevelopment monies

k. Cut electrical use in evening

I have loved teaching in Ramona. My 3 daughters went through Ramona schools. The two oldest have graduated from college. The oldest not only has her master’s degree, she is working on her doctorate. The youngest will graduate college in June. Their successes are a direct result of the excellent teaching and the amazing support staff.

Lastly, I want to thank many who have made me want to go the extra bit, to come to work with a smile, to buy materials to supplement class supplies, to stay late, plan, research, and teach with joy. Gary Tiegs was an amazing first principal for me in Ramona. Pauline Leavitt brings innovation, support, and true collaboration to our school. She has made us a family again. Tammy, Joanna, Johnny, Sheri, Brenda, Becky, Michelle, and all of the classified—thank you for all you do. Our PTA is so enthusiastic and amazing! I think it is obvious where the problems occur —the board and the superintendent.

This comes from my heart. After 35 years of teaching, in Texas and in California, this is the first time that I have felt kicked in the stomach. If the district had made any gesture of finding alternative solutions, I would not feel so hurt. Please know that I have never discussed this with my students. Their education will continue to be my priority. I am asking for the community to help. Please ask questions and let your voice be heard.

Update: This morning we were notified that the district will be voting on imposing the NEW offer on the teachers on Monday night. The facts presented by Dr. Graeff on Thursday have now been changed. In addition to the higher pay cut, they will raise class size and institute furlough days. They have decided to close ALL Ramona schools from May 20 to May 24 of this year.

Please attend the board meeting at the district office on Monday, April 22, at 7 p.m. The implementation is the only item on the agenda. The teachers have offered to take cuts. Please come speak up for the kids of Ramona.

Thank you for reading this.

Lynn Bebinger teaches sixth grade at James Dukes Elementary School in Ramona.

Related posts:

  1. Ramona school district, teachers union expect fact-finding report Monday
  2. Financial Aid Night: Jan. 8 in RHS Performing Arts Wing
  3. School board OKs 17 teacher layoffs
  4. Kudos for Ramona High School’s industrial arts program, teachers
  5. Reflections on school board meeting

Short URL: http://www.ramonasentinel.com/?p=22840

Posted by Maureen Robertson on Apr 19 2013. Filed under Commentary. 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.

22 Comments for “Come to Monday school board meeting in Ramona High’s Performing Arts Wing”

  1. Appreciative Parent

    Great points! I know the usual suspects (nay sayers) will be coming in to put their two cents in, but before they do, just wanted to say most parents are behind you teachers. You do our community proud with all your hard work and concern for our kids! We do not agree with the school board and Dr. Graeff's approach.

  2. guest

    Lynn, have you and your fellow teachers read the fact finding report yourself? Or did you rely on your union to feed you the information? Do you trust everything your union provides you as the truth? Do you fact check what the district and union publish?

    The community is most likely behind you on the admin and superintendant pay issues, and that is definitely a separate issue for the community to take action on.

    But you say the teachers have offered to take cuts. Those cuts are nowhere near what the fact finding report recommended. That report was the result of an exhaustive effort by a panel that your union approved.

    Your union rejected nearly every recommendation made by that report. The report asked for a three year term, your union said one year (that ends this June 30th). The report asked for an 85/15 split on health care for 3 years, your union said 90/10 for one year. There are more.

    The district imposed terms that deviate in two or three areas, so they are in fact much closer than teachers are. That is something that the community needs to educate themselves on and take action.

    Why do the teachers and the union so strongly reject the independent report? It would be alot easier to get behind you 100% if your union showed more interest in keeping the district solvent and averting a strike. A bankrupt district will hurt our property values, if the state takes over, the cuts they impose on you may be deeper than those recommended by the report, and a strike will hurt our kids far more than furlough days.

    What say you?

    • Roymond

      I'm not sure who this guest is but I can assure you he/she has no interest in helping the Teachers out one bit. When it gets to this persons bottom line all he/she worries about is their property value. Guess they should've worried about that before they voted down the second Bond attempt. To me this coward that refuses to post his/her name obviously is an administrator of the Ramona Unified School District who clearly receives yearly bonuses even if the teachers haven't received one for many many years.
      This comment hopefull didn't come from one of the highly educated board members as they have been a dissapointment in the past and show no signs of improvements by lessons learned from previous Boards. The School Board members as well as the RUSD administrators should be ashamed of themselves for not providing the proper leadership required of them .

      • Bad Timing

        Roymond: or maybe "guest" is a parent and worries about payback. And we should all be worried about our property values. This is part of the problem here and why your community support has evaporated. Name calling and fixated on one non-issue. And you last sentence is perhaps the most telling. What you fail to understand is there is a faction of this community, who LOVE and RESPECT our teachers, who feel the RUSD admin and board did exactly that. Provided unwavering leadership to meet the district's financial challenges. Personally I think they have an equally large image problem. But until you realize what those around you (not those who are the same) think you have no chance of gaining their support. And yes, I am right. People are talking about it all over town.

        • Roymond

          BAD Timing : Your response to my comment tells me you possibly are one of the Hoakie Board members who swallowed the Robert Graeff mint Julip flavored coolaide. I was at the board meeting Monday night and it was pathetic to think that any of those Board members even think for one minute they deserve the right to make decisions for all of those educators. They sat on stage faking that they cared about the peasants before them and it made me sick to watch how fast they voted against the Teachers as if their minds were made up beforehand.
          Please don't even waste your time responding to my comment. This is the last time I will chime in on this subject. Can't wait to see whats next to come from the public for the Supe.

  3. donna

    Thanks for the greata article Lynn. Just to clarify, the meeting will be held at the RHS PAW at the 7:00 pm time.
    Donna

  4. Shelly

    @Guest

    Please keep in mind that these are NEGOTIATIONS. It would not make sense for the union to start the offer of a pay cut at a higher percentage. The union wants to avert a strike. Striking teachers are not paid teachers. But, the district on the other hand will save money, even paying $275 a day to a sub rather than pay teacher salaries. Maybe the district continues to stall negotiations simply to save money, irregardless of the damage it would do to our schools, students, and the relationship between the district and it's teachers.

    On another note, please don't imply that Ms. Bebinger has not taken the time to read the fact finding report for herself. She is a highly educated woman and has written to merely convey to the public the hardship that these cuts will mean for herself and her family.

    Any district in such a dire financial situation should not be honoring step increases, especially those of it's highest paid individuals. The fact that the board agreed to Graeff's increase is disappointing. It would show good faith if he would give back his increase, retroactively, just as the teachers are being asked to do.

  5. teacher

    Yes I have read the report. I read all 24 pages and I highlighed every word that was misinterpreted by Dr. Graeff. Put on a fresh set of eyes and a open mind and read it again. You will see what I am talking about.

    Besides, I understand the "neutral" fact finder was herself a board member. How is that "neutral"?

    • Rational Ramona

      The neutral on the fact finding panel was a woman sent by PERB that was agreed upon by both management and RTA. She has nothing to do with either the District or RTA – that is why she was the neutral.

  6. guest

    Interesting to know that the other fact finder was a board member. Why then, did the RTA approve of her presence on the committee? Sitting here out in John Q Publicville, it is confusing to know why the district and RTA would approve of the panel members and the whole research project, then cry foul and attempt to discredit it because it doesn't back their side. The district imposition does not follow the report, nor does the RTA. Yeah, we voters are NOT happy that the board has the super's compensation structured so that he gets raises, thats being totally tone-deaf and it's something that we voters need to take action on. But to propose far fewer cuts than the Report recommends, or to strike out of spite because of the compensation of one employee seems like shooting yourself in the foot. And screwing the kids and community over.

    Also, if this district declares bankruptcy, and the state comes in, could they not in fact impose harsher cuts on you than the report recommends? You guys are sitting ducks in a way with no contract if they come in. Seems like that would be worse for all of us, especially teachers.

    • PTA member

      Guest,
      Look into what "self qualifying" a school budget means. You to be a lot less concerned about RUSD filing for bankruptcy. Also find out how may steps it take before the state comes in. RUSD is far, far from having that happen.

  7. Teacher

    You are right guest. Just as you suggest that teachers should be questioning their union, you should be questioning a dishonest board and district. The facts that were submitted to the fact finders were not accurate. How can you trust a board that is approving a pay raise to a superintendent in a situation like this? Take your own advice! Question the board and the superintendent. You are obviously taking what they say as the truth.

    • guest

      Can you provide us with the fact the district sumbitted that were not accurate? From where we sit in the public, both sides agreed to the people and methods involved in this report and now neither side will follow it for various reasons that sound like whining. If you claim the district flat out lied, then you need to come to us, the community with a document that backs up every claim. Or we can't help you.

      I understand pretty well (still have lots to learn) how step increases and compensation works in our district. True, what you are being asked to accept does not include the step increase for this year that you have received with past CBAs. Graeff's current contract allows for step increases this year. The fact that he would accept that raise makes him tone deaf, but I'm not about to watch this district go bankrupt or support a strike just because I'm disgruntled about one year out of one employee's compensation package.

      • Joe

        We need an outside independent audit of the books. That's the only way we can find out where we really stand. Fact finding accepted the District's books as true and accurate. It's common knowledge that Ramona Sup.'s have had two sets of books going way back. Its not that unthinkable that Graeff would be doing the same. After all its a RUSD tradition!

    • guest

      Pay raise? Isn't it a step increase, the same type of "raise" that all teachers are eligible for under their contracts?

  8. Informed Teacher

    I HAVE read the fact finder's report. A key point that Graeff seemed to forget during his summary last week is that the recommendation was that if district funding was increased, salary could be renegotiated. This was a huge sticking point that teachers were not willing to give in on. "The Chair further recommends that the parties reopen salary for school year 2013-14, after the legislature acts on the 2013-14 budget in order to assess if there is money to restore any or all of the 2013-14 recommended furlough days….Restoration should be a first priority for the parties."

    Also in the report in regards to an 85/15 split in benefits "… the Chair further
    recommends that they analyze the savings achieved with any plan changes they made for the 2013-14 school year, with a goal of moving to a 90/10 split, or better, in payments to the Health and Welfare plans as soon as fiscally possible." Again, the district refused to include this in their settlement offer.

    Teachers have never argued against cuts this year…we have asked that the cuts be made in a reasonable way and that the opportunity to adjust the cuts would be available should district funding improve.

    • Rational Ramona

      The RTA team could put in protective language for restoration as did the classified unit. We already got back 2% this year due to Prop 30 passing and the language we put in out agreement.

      • teacher

        Then why are you so antagonistic against the teachers if you are getting money back? Your contract is yours. Ours is ours. You just seem bitter and jealous every time you post. Without the teachers hard work with the kids many of you would have no jobs. Show some repect. If we hadn't been making Distinguished Schools and getting good press for the district, many of you would lose your jobs beacause Ramona's enrollment would be dropping even more. There is no point to stirring up bad blood between the two unions. That's what the district wants anyway…devide and concur.

        • Bad Timing

          I pray you are not teaching my children. "devide and concur?" I'd appreciate it if now that your side would just "concur." Let's be done now.

          • teacher

            Oops! That's what I get for not wearing my reading glasses when writing and then being sleep deprived from all of this mess.

  9. guest

    Tenure, as defined by dictionary.com: status granted to an employee, usually after a probationary period, indicating that the position or employment is permanent.
    Accountability, with respect to education, as defined by dictionary.com: a policy of holding schools and teachers accountable for students' academic progress by linking such progress with funding for salaries, maintenance, etc.

    I am fairly certain that as long as the teachers enjoy the former, they can comfortably ignore the latter…and no teacher exemplifies this more than the writer of the above article.

  10. another guest

    Guest if I understand you correctly, your logic does not apply in Ramona because of the evidence. Proof: Ramona's tenured teachers produce student academic performance much higher than teachers elsewhere. Their acountability has been exemplary.

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