What is the long-term fiscal plan for Ramona schools?

By Superintendent Bob Graeff

Ramona Unified School District

(This is the fifth of a series about fiscal issues related to the Ramona Unified School District.)

Under the law, every school district has to project a budget plan for three years which forecasts its fiscal condition. Due to our many local challenges, our governing board has wisely decided to create a longer view for our staff and local community. Accordingly, the board has scheduled a Community Workshop for 9 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 25, in the Olive Peirce Middle School Performing Arts Center at 1521 Hanson Lane.

At this community gathering, staff will make a brief presentation of a proposed long-term fiscal plan before inviting community members to ask questions, make comments, or suggest alternative solutions.

Currently, staff is forecasting negative ending balances to reoccur locally in 2015-16. Conditions of declining enrollment, increasing healthcare costs, employee salary schedules, long-term debt, and less state funding have all contributed to our current fiscal challenge. Deficit spending — as with many public agencies the past several years — has been a necessity and has crippled our local budget. Recently, we publicly projected that we may have more than a $7 million shortfall two years from now which can only grow worse if something is not done.

But there is a way out.

We have worked hard to prepare a fiscal plan for the community which results in a school district that continues to support the educational needs of children, pays its bills, and remains a source of community pride.

While not showcasing all the details here, our plan is based on the sale of key district properties, reducing expenses to match declining enrollment, managing healthcare costs, utilizing the benefits of an improving state economy, and — yes — the passage of a local school bond. Together, these core pieces can work together to create a positive budget for the district and end our spiral toward fiscal failure.

The benefits of our plan include maintaining local control of our Ramona schools versus a state takeover (like in Compton, Oakland, Inglewood, Richmond, and more). We maintain a strong academic reputation and thriving co-curricular programs. We maintain a loyal and dedicated employee base. We serve the needs of our students and their families.

The requirements to make this plan work? Community participation in plan development and an eventual ballot measure, employee support of a responsible approach to resource allocation, and strong leadership by the governing board and our administrative team.

To hear more, attend this Saturday’s Community Workshop, follow us on RUSD Facebook, see our website, and continue to follow our articles printed in the Ramona Sentinel. Working together, our residents and our staff can keep Ramona schools strong!

Related posts:

  1. Ramona school trustees schedule community workshop to discuss district’s long-term fiscal plan
  2. Schools are poised for a new beginning
  3. Schools brace for budget cuts
  4. Water board sets budget calendar for upcoming fiscal year
  5. Why are our schools so deep in debt?

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Posted by Maureen Robertson on Jan 23 2014. 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.

4 Comments for “What is the long-term fiscal plan for Ramona schools?”

  1. Guest

    I am very happy to finally see Dr. Graeff address the need to develop strategies around declining enrollment. The mere acknowledgment of the need is a positive first step. Now that he is talking the talk, lets see him walk the walk. If the district actually begins making progress in the area of cost cutting and service consolidation, I could see the possibility of the public supporting a bond measure to address the remaining deficit.

  2. Jane Tanaka MD

    There is a sector of the Ramona public that previously would have never ever consider voting for a school bond, that is CONSIDERING changing their minds If and only if :
    1. The bond is no frills, pay of the COP and nothing else.
    2.There is tangible, concrete evidence of this board and administration being frugal and cost slashing
    3. Some level of making amends to the public for bad decisions made by previoius administration/board members for building 2 new schools without public approval, inspite of already declining enrollment, borrowing 25 million dollars without public approval, and resorting to obtaining the land for one of these schools via eminent domain , on a dead end road , in an area of Ramona not needing a new school… etc, etc, etc…

    • Guest

      I don't think there are necessarily many who would not have considered a new bond under any circumstances. I think it is more that there is a segment that has zero trust in the district. Dr. Graeff's latest article suggests that the district recognizes the need to look at means other than just a bond to fix the situation. This is a departure from everything I have read and heard first-hand in the past; however, these are still just words. If the district does not begin implementing cost cutting and consolidation in the very near term, any bond measure is doomed. From what I've heard from many in the community, this is the district leadership's one and only chance to get it right. After this, there will be calls for their removal. I personally know of three people who stand an excellent chance of being elected to the Board that will run on the platform of firing the entire district leadership if things don't change. Let's hope the district takes this opportunity and does the right thing this time.

  3. Joseph Tramontana

    I agree, acknowledging that there is a need to develop strategies around declining enrollment is a positive first step. If you know your priorities, it will be so much easier to focus on your goals and achieve it.

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