Ramona teachers union leaders call for strike authorization vote

School board to vote on changes to teachers contract in special meeting tonight

Monday, April 22—Ramona Teachers Association’s executive board has unanimously approved calling a general membership meeting to take a strike authorization vote.

The date, though imminent, is yet to be determined, states a release from the teachers union.

Donna Braye-Romero, president of the Ramona teachers union, talks to teachers, parents, and students participating in a rally by the flagpole outside the district offices before the school board meeting April 16. Sentinel photo/Maureen Robertson

“RTA members are energized by the magnitude of devastating, punitive cuts to salary and benefits Ramona Unified School District Superintendent Robert Graeff plans to recommend for unilateral imposition at a special called RUSD school board meeting Monday, April 22, at 7 p.m., at the Ramona High School Performing Arts Wing, 1401 Hanson Lane,” states the release. “RTA members plan to stand strong as they and their supporters rally to protest the move and call for a fair and reasonable settlement. The protest rally will begin at 6:30 p.m.”

“This horrific action is planned despite the fact that Ramona teachers have repeatedly offered to accept reasonable cuts from a fair number of furlough days,” said RTA President Donna Braye-Romero. “Such behavior can only be described as punitive and retaliatory. Just as they threatened at last Monday’s post-fact finding meeting, they have increased the amount of cuts because we could not accept their untenable proposal that day, by upping them to the maximum 8 percent for 2012-13.”

Imposition calls for an 8 percent cut in 2012-13, a 9.4 percent cut in 2013-14 and another 9.4 percent in 2014-15, more than the recent fact-finding report recommended, states the release.

“There are only two paychecks left this year out of which concessions can be taken. This means that the average Ramona teacher will lose half or more of their gross pay from both the May and June warrants,” said Braye-Romero. “Dr. Graeff is recommending these egregious cuts and the board seems intent on approving them, knowing full well that it will leave many teachers unable to pay their mortgages or rent, their car payments, or for food and utilities for them and their families.”

In addition, the cuts have severe implications for the community’s children, who will lose five days of education

Teachers hold signs in a packed school board meeting room Tuesday, April 16. The special board meeting tonight at 7 will be held in the Ramona High Performing Arts Wing. Sentinel photo/Maureen Robertson

this year and for the next two years, at a time when surrounding districts are restoring instructional days due to the increase in funding coming to the state’s public schools — including Ramona — from the passage of Prop 30, the release continues, adding that the district will be saving money from increased class sizes.

The cuts will result in the district losing teachers to other districts they say treat their employees with more respect and dignity.

“They will make Ramona one of the lowest paying districts in the county, leaving it unable to attract or retain high quality teachers motivated to help the community’s children achieve ever-increasing standards of excellence,” states the release.

“The quality of a community’s schools is also a key factor in attracting business and development and in the maintenance of property values,” said Braye-Romero. “We urge the citizens of Ramona to join with us at Monday’s protest rally, for the sake of our children and indeed, for the sake of our entire community.”

For details about tonight’s special school board meeting and for other information related to the ongoing differences between the teachers union and district, see the district’s website, ramonausd.net.

Information also is on the RTA website, ramonateachers.com.

Related posts:

  1. School board approves emergency measures as district braces for possible teachers strike
  2. Ramona school district, teachers union expect fact-finding report Monday
  3. Ramona school district braces for strike
  4. Ramona teachers wage State of Emergency campaign
  5. Ramona teachers endorse one-year contract settlement; district wants three-year agreement

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Posted by Maureen Robertson on Apr 22 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.

38 Comments for “Ramona teachers union leaders call for strike authorization vote”

  1. Bad Timing

    You agreed to fact finding. You had a person on the panel. You did not settle months ago so now it comes down to the last two months. Report says you should make these concessions. I think your leverage has dwindled. Add a job action to that and I think you might be hurting yourselves for years to come. I love our teachers. But this is bad timing. Be happy you have a job and you have at least 85% of your family health care paid for, by me.

    • guest

      Correction Bad Timing. The teachers did not agree to going to fact finding. They wanted to negotiate. The district kept walking away from the bargaining table, before any negotiating could be done. The District negotiators started holding up their fact finding binder very early on in the process. They did it as a threat or "look at what we want." Very nasty. They forced the negotiations to go to fact finding because that was their plan all along. They had many more man hours to spend on the fact finding report than the teachers. The district used district hours to put their's together. The teachers had to put theirs together by working after school and taking a few teaching days off. The district forced the fact finding, just like they are forcing the strike. It is all part of thier plan and when I say their I really mean Graeff. Too bad the board is letting him control them.

      • Guest

        Okay, then you get a clue – we don't care if you didn't agree to fact finding. If your union is pushing for terms that will ensure the district goes bankrupt then you should have expected that there would be huge push back. Your union had plenty of time to see this all coming and if they were less prepared than the district, then thats the fault of your union. The terms of the report seem harsh to you, but no more so than the very least that private industry has dished out on the rest of us. You are whining about having to pay 15% of a cadillac health care plan? Whining about taking furlough days that are less than a 4% pay reduction? Oh yeah, you keep your step increases (raises) and your fabulous pension plan that we taxpayers contribute to. The countless thousands of us in your community would kill for those terms and entitlements. We know teachers love our kids, and we love you, but at this point you are acting like you live in a bubble and your group are the only ones being treated unjustly. It's almost insulting. Tell your union to go back to the district, take the terms of the fact finding report and be done with it. If you strike, you will cause more hardship for the community who doesn't have a lot of sympathy left. You will probably find that the community is not behind you. And all the other stuff about the district lied and cheated and everything else. Tell your union to distribute facts instead of inflammatory dialog in the papers and the public might be able to help.

        • Mom

          The teachers are very disturbed over how the board's decisions will change the educational experience of Ramona's kids. Larger class sizes, fewer school days, less money in the general fund because of the COP…all those issues are what the teachers are fighting for.

          And saying you love teachers and not taking the time to learn the facts is insulting to them and quite honestly a bunch of hot air.

    • Dad to Teachers

      Personally, I hope they strike.

      two of my kids and many friends are unemployed teachers, they'll be all over this :)

      Hey Ramona teachers! how's the RTA working for ya huh? :)

  2. Over it

    I am really over all of this. Even though the teachers are not on strike as of now, all they talk about in the classrooms, (at least at the high school) is the strike. With all the recent loss of life and tragedy, you would think our teachers would have their priorities straight. Be thankful you have a job when others are not so lucky. Be thankful for your many blessings and move on. Life isn't fair sometimes, it's hard and we all have to do our share. Get over yourselves and just do your job!

    • GetReal

      The cuts are draconian and financially devastating to many people. These are the folks who are on the front line of getting our next generation ready to become productive tax paying citizens. Treating them this way is unfair, and it is only human nature that it will trickle down to our kids.

      So you get over it and realize that you don't have all of the facts. Why did Graeff take a pay raise when asking everyone else to take a cut? Why did Graeff ask for a multiple year very painful set of salary reductions, class size increases and less education for the kids of Ramona when Prop 30 passed and will definitely lead to an increase in funding for RUSD?

      Have you seen an independent financial audit of RUSD? Have you seen any financial statements from RUSD?

  3. Angry Mother

    Teachers, the District and School Board need to stop their mudslinging and come to an agreement. Neither side is right, and the only people getting hurt in this is the children. Lets support our children!!!

  4. Over it

    The teachers union should have taken a contract last school year (2011-2012) or at the beginning of this school year (2012-2013). The classified have taken cuts the last two years, and done furlough day….what have the teachers done? If the Teachers Union had agreed to a contract the cuts wouldn't have impacted the teachers pay as much, where as now they will feel the cut in their last two pay checks. Other school districts teachers union have agreed to a three year contract, and that is why their school district are doing so much better money wise and still have smaller class sizes. Also,when prop 30 does finally comes through, those school districts that already come to a contracted agreement, will most likely be restoring instructional days. I feel the Union and the School Board need to come to an agreement soon and get over themselves. All they are doing to hurting the community and the students.

  5. Anonymous

    LISTEN UP!!!!!!!! I am disgusted by both sides here.

    RUSD leadership is completely ineffective and has demonstrated no creative problem solving in the way of revenue generation or cost reduction other than cutting salaries. Do you think perhaps labor relations would improve in light of good faith initiatives and visionary leadership? As several speakers noted at tonight’s board meeting there is no transparency, trust or communication between the two sides. These are measures which simply must be initiated by management.

    Now, RTA members…..whining about not getting your loan approved for a mortgage is not going to carry a lot of weight with community members who have lost their jobs. Realize that you must work for less and if not, there are plenty of unemployed teachers out there willing to work for that reduced pay.

  6. Karen

    Thank you Listen Up. I couldn't agree more. And now we have Dr Racjic who after years of writing rambling, incoherent Letters to the Editor regarding RUSD business and months of campaigning for a seat on the school board now refuses to cast an up or down vote on the business at hand, Seems he was more interested in finding a showcase for his rants and settling the score with the board members who disregarded him before the election than actually working to solve problems.

  7. Ann

    You get what you pay for Ramona. You didn't want to pay for your own school buildings so now, you want to have your teachers pay for it! Shame on you. You can hire them individually as tutors when the education in Ramona falls to an all time low. You can get lucky and short sell your house when the property values fall even further when a whole new wave of people can't pay their mortgage because you've decided to let them personally pay for your debts. Shame on you Ramona for allowing this to happen and, if you don't remedy it your town will fall even further. 10 years ago it was a great place to raise kids and the schools were wonderful. They've barely been hanging on over the recession and, this – will be going in the wrong direction. I left Ramona, with kids in tow, 2 years ago and I'm glad I did. But, I hope for my friends and neighbors still there that the low life free loading population does take hold. Pay for your schools and don't let your teachers personally take the hit. I find it unbelievable that it has gone this far.

    • guest

      Hey Ann, before you blow off your steam, you should read the budget, like some of have done, and you would see that even without "paying for our buildings", we would still be in the red next year and have to go bankrupt. Because our teachers have taken ZERO cuts unlike every other district in the county. Our admin hasn't stepped up to the plate either, but thats a separate argument. Yeah, it's lame that we didn't pass a bond like other districts, but when teachers are willing to conceed almost nothing, the community has a right to not agree with them.

      • Ann

        The teachers have agreed to take cuts. Not excessive, extreme cuts out of a ridiculous power play. "We'll put them in their place" is the mentality here. And, what are you will to concede to help pay for those buildings? Me, I chose to get out of that town. It's a dying town with a bad reputation in surrounding areas. All of that in the last 10 years . . . this could be the final nail in my opinion.

    • Bad Timing

      Ann, there is that pesky little thing referred to as the fact finding report. While I agree with what you say here, your conclusion seem to be that "we" should step up (some more) and pay for the "school buildings." The report suggested the way to remedy the existing budget shortfall was to go this route. What other choices to fund the budget now? I agree not passing the bond was a pitiful statement made by the voters of this community. Many of the "no" votes came from parents with kids in school. Maybe they'll try again, maybe not. But it will fail unless this community puts a better face on it. The Supe, angry teachers, just plain baffling board members: NOT gonna cut it.

      • Ann

        Because we don't know the answer, the teachers get stuck with it? How is that okay? And again, the teachers did agree to less extreme cuts but that seems to not be acknowledge here. Even if this ends up getting resolved in a fair manner that the teachers, as well as the community take care of it, I can't imagine the teachers ever feeling the same in a Ramona classroom working for a Community that is treating them with such disregard and trying to stick them with a situation they did not create.

      • Harry

        Agree with you Bad Timing. It was a pitiful statement about how Ramona supports the community. We are getting a bad rep in SD County as we are the only school district in SD county that has never passed a bond. I hope they will put one out there again in the fall. Maybe the good thing that has come of all this discussion is people will understand the need to pass a bond. It is neccesary to get Ramona Schools back in the same ball park as the other schools in the county. Right now we are the losers and we did it to ourselves. After all the bond was less than a dollar a day for home owners and the money is staying right hear in Ramona.

  8. Guest

    The community should stand together and support the teachers. The community, myself included, voted against the bond measure last November that would have helped the district out of the mess THEY created. The teachers are not responsible for paying for the district's bad decisions. The community can't afford any additional taxes and the teachers can not afford any extreme pay cuts. What the district is proposing is extreme. Many of the teachers won't be able to pay their mortgages. It seems that the district and the community think the "right" thing to do is place ALL the burden on the teachers. It's the wrong thing to do. It's unfair and an abuse of power. I am not a teacher. I have three children in Ramona schools and I have taken a 20% pay cut at my job. But, all the employees where I work have taken a pay cut, including my boss. Pay cuts across the board are fair. Robert Graeff hasn't taken a pay cut. My understanding is that he has taken a pay increase every year during this recession. Why isn't the community upset about that? Why does the community just accept this abuse of power? None of us can afford taxes or pay cuts. The fair thing to do is for all of us to bear the burden. The district, including Robert Graeff, should take fair and reasonable pay cuts. The teachers should take fair and reasonable pay cuts. The community should pay for some of this burden too. We need to stand up for what is just and fair. We need to stop accepting things as they are and, instead, fight for how things should be. If the teachers strike, we should support them. They were and still are willing to take fair and reasonable pay cuts. We should ask the district staff, including Robert Graeff, to take fair and reasonable pay cuts. The district is abusing their power. If they aren't willing to be fair, we should withhold our kids from school – even if the teachers don't strike. Let's stop this abuse of power.

    • guest

      Hi Guest. Have you read the fact finding report that has, by public standards, painful but pretty reasonable cuts? Why didn't the RTA agree to that? Admin comensation is a great argument, but it seems like ramona parents are just sitting back waiting for some mystery person to make a stand. Have YOU personally done anything about the administration's lack of sharing the sacrifice? Have you personally contacted the members of the school board? Neither the district NOR the teachers are going to sacrifice one single thing unless the public starts applying pressure.

      • Ann

        Besides backing teachers in their strike and pulling kids out of school – and, relocating as I have chosen to do – what can the community now do since the bond was rejected? No one is listening to the public or to the teachers.

    • laughter

      ahahaaaaahaaaa The board and Graeff taking a pay cut…… as the kids say LOL ROFL LMAO

    • classified employee

      You probably should get your facts straight before you state your opinion. The classified(all the support staff) HAS taken pay cuts! We started seeing that in our paychecks back in October! We ARE doing our part!

      • B. Ingalls

        Why do the classified staff continue to believe the district? Why did your union fold? Why didn't you fight? Why fight teachers? Why not fight with them?
        The district presented numbers, and your representation said, "Oh…okay…let's take it." The RTA looked at the same numbers and said, "Not so fast! These are projections! No one at the SDCOE said this is true!" and we're fighting. That's why we have a union.
        If we win a fair and reasonable settlement, so do you. Work with us!

  9. Rational Ramona

    The amount of misinformation here is appalling. This school district isn't in a financial crisis because of Dr. Graeff's raises – everyone in this district who is not at the top step of their salary range has been getting their raises all along.
    This district is in financial crisis for a variety of reasons: reduced revenue from the State of California per student, revenues owed to all school districts (over 10 billion dollars) that have not be paid, declining enrollment, the COP for modernization and new buildings and also the refusal of all three bargaining units to pay towards health insurance.
    And read the Fact Finding Report: the teachers never offered to pay as much as the their representative member on that panel indicated the District needs. What is that telling you about how reasonable their offers were?

    • Joe

      Did you sit in on the negotiations? "The teachers never offered to pay as much as the their representative member on that [fact finding] panel indicated ." The fact that you claim this totally discredits your reliability because your statement is absolutely false. You need to go back to your source and question them about what they are feeding you. If you were on the negotiations team you never would have said this, so obviously you are just reporting second hand information.

    • B. Ingalls

      You're right about the misinformation, but wrong about the budget. There are still several things the district could do to solve the problems facing it, but they choose not to. Many have personal bias against consolidating schools, early retirement, selling property or a whole host of other solutions the teachers offered.
      RTA never had an opportunity to bargain. The district said, "This is what we want. Take it or we'll impose." Does that sound like bargaining? How about fair?
      The state's fiscal health is improving, Prop 30 money is coming in, but RUSD refuses to to include any contingency language.
      There is no "refusal" by RTA. Negotiating means coming together to find common ground. RUSD has many complaints against it with PERB because they will not bargain or bargain in bad faith.
      Who is unreasonable?

  10. Guest

    This is about money, plain and simple. Either the teachers take a pay cut or the state takes over. That is reality. I dont like it, I would rather the community fire the entire school board, pay the debt and start over. If anyone knows how to do that speak up. The bond didnt pass and there is no back up plan. That is our fault. We let it get to this point. I didnt live here when the school board mortgaged our future with that hideous debt we now have but no one stopped them so this is where we are. A state takeover may be the only way to get rid of Graeff. His leadership is less than honorable and we are all painted into a corner. I have two kids in elementary school and am furious. If he was a banker maybe the government would bail him out and give him a departure bonus but we dont have that option. I propose we pass a bond next election that gets us out of the red and requires the resignation of Graeff. I have no problem with one year at a time deals for the teachers. The board cant plan ahead anyway.

  11. Lucy

    It is so sad that many are paying for the HUGE mistakes of a few that are not even here anymore! Yes, teachers have a somewhat good reitirement. Yes, teachers have days off during the year. Yes, teachers, well some, have a job. But the truth of the matter is, have you ever walked in the shoes of a teacher who spends 7-71/2 hours of their workday with 30 plus children keeping them focused on the high standards we have set for your children. Or, have you walked in the shoes of a spouse of a teacher who goes to bed without their spouse since they are grading relentless essays, book reports, math tests, etc! Have you walked in the shoes of a teacher when they have to deal with children coming to school with emotional issues stemming from abuse. Teacher's have a hard job!! One must have a passion for it…..I agree middle ground has to be met, all must take pay cuts!!! Classified, cetificated and administration!!!! I support the teachers….go get um!

  12. Wendy Zehm

    Ramona Unified teachers ARE willing to take a fair and reasonable pay cut, but Dr. Graeff and the school board have chosen to ignore the determinations of the impartial fact finders who were empowered to submit what they found to be fair and reasonable. If it is true that Dr. Graeff has hired a public relations firm, this tells you he knows his draconian cuts are not fair and reasonable and needs to spin his financial decisions to make it more palatable to the community of Ramona. The teachers of RUSD are professionals who put their whole beings into educating and protecting children. So, Dr. Graeff treat teachers with respect and do what is fair and reasonable.

  13. Dear Board Members , Dr Graeff, and Mr Osterman;

    Next to Wildfires, and untimely deaths of kids here in Ramona, last night’s RUSD Board Meeting
    was the saddest thing I've experienced in Ramona over the last 17 years.

    Although many heart wrenching pleas were made, as one parent in the community observed, " Both sides were too beaten down to negotiate."
    And many feel that the Board member’s minds were made up prior to the meeting even beginning.

    But its not too late to negotiate.
    As a private citizen, I strongly recommend that cuts NOT begin in the remainder of this academic year; ie that they begin in Sept 2013,
    and lower the cuts recommended by the Fact Finding Panel.

    The community will otherwise perceive it as cruel to teachers who will have nearly zero paychecks in May and June of this academic year!.
    That perception fuels the feelings of betrayal and distrust in the community toward the School District, and will hinder future public support should you
    try to get another Bond measure on the ballot.

  14. Woody Kirkman

    This article falsely leaves the reader with the impression that the salary cuts will add up to 26.8% over three school years. THIS IS DISHONEST REPORTING, and the Ramona Sentinel should be ashamed for such an attempt to obfuscate the truth. The proposed salary cuts are 8% this year, and an additional cut of 1.4% for the next two school years, not an additional cut of 9.4% in 2014 and another cut of 9.4% in 2015, which would total 26.8%. It also fails to mention that salaries would revert to their pre-2013 levels in the 2016 school year. Further, it fails to mention the pay raise given to all eligible teachers in the RUSD this year, as well as the pay cuts to salaries in the administration. These cuts alone won't keep the school district from bankruptcy, the gold plated health care plan, ($14k per year per teacher,) has to end.

    • a teacher's kid

      A salary cut of 8% is beyond outlandish and when you take 8% of a teacher's annual salary out of the last two months pay, with no pay coming again until Sept. 30, 2013, it is preposterous! You figure how much 8% of your annual wages would be and then take it all out of 2 months wages. Some of the teachers will have less than $2000 total to live off of from May 1 until Sept.30. Can you explain how that can be done Dr. Graeff, Ms. Stafari and Mr. Ostermann? School board, please get your heads out of the sand and do something. I don't even think this is legal!

  15. Montana Vet

    Thank you Mr. Kirkman for clarifying the numbers.

  16. B. Ingalls

    We won't have enough to see ourselves through summer with a 7.82% pay cut that's retroactive. In other words, they've taken our year's salary, taken 7.82% from that, and taken it from our last two checks. It's probably illegal.
    Next year, teachers' paychecks are reduced from this year's paychecks over 9.4% and 2015 looks the same.
    The district will have no incentive to start negotiations at the 2012-2013 pay scale. It will begin bargaining at the 9.4% levels.
    We will be some of the lowest-paid teachers in the county. And our health care…it's not gold-plated. LMSV, GUHSD, and San Diego all have much better plans than ours.
    That's a fact.

  17. Hal

    Dear Guest,
    1. The teachers" fabulous" pension plan pays slightly more than social security would pay over the same number of years and age of retirement. Most teachers supplement their retirement with private TSA's (funded only by the teacher.) They are similar to IRA's.t That may be why you think they get so much.
    2.Just because private industry may have been hard on some (not all) is no excuse to stick it to any other group.. Poor logic.
    3. Step increases do not to impact very many teachers, and now even those step increases are wiped out by the furlough days.
    4.The teacher's "Cadillac" health plan is not what it once used to be. The teacher's out of pocket costs and covered procedures, services and treatments shrink every year, just like everyone else's health insurance coverage these days.
    5. Instead of looking at percentages, you would be better informed if you saw that most teachers will take a hit or $15,000 to $20,000 total over the next three years.
    6. If the teachers do decide it is necessary to strike, I am sure it will be because the district is unyielding. The teachers cannot negotiate with a group who will not bend at all.

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