Ramona trustees to review bond consultant’s proposed contract

By Maureen Robertson

In an apparent effort to gain consensus, two Ramona Unified school trustees and Superintendent Robert Graeff will review a proposed contract with Urban Futures Inc. and renegotiate with Isom Advisors, the Urban Futures division that will work as bond consultant for the district.

Trustee Bob Stoody listens as other board members respond to his concerns about a proposed bond consultant contract. Sentinel photo/Maureen Robertson

The school board’s 5-0 vote came after trustee Bob Stoody expressed concerns about what he called possible land mines in the proposal.

The five-member board is expected to consider results of the renegotiation at a special meeting March 5 at 5:15 p.m. in the district office board room, 720 Ninth St.

“At a minimum, I’d like to not pass this contract until we take it to a fee-based person and say, ‘please look at this contract and tell us where the land mines are,’” said Stoody.

Stoody said he had sleepless nights during the district’s failed attempt to pass a $66 million general obligation bond in 2012.

“I’m not comfortable going back to Isom,” he said.

Isom Advisors was the district’s bond consultant in the 2012

Dawn Perfect, school board presidents, asks fellow trustee Bob Stoody for specific items he is concerned with in the proposed contract. Sentinel photo/Maureen Robertson


The defeat in 2012 had more to do with “circumstances of the day” than the district’s strategy, said Graeff. Among factors affecting the district’s 2012 bond bid were state tax-increase proposals on the same ballot, the state’s new and unpopular fire fee, negative press, Poway Unified School District’s capital appreciation bond that was making national news, the lack of prominent endorsers, the district’s and the labor dispute with Ramona teachers, according to Graeff and Isom’s post-election analysis.

“Those factors had more to do with our failure last time than anything any adviser might have done,” said Graeff.

“We clearly need to craft a better proposal,” said Dawn Perfect, board president. “We need to be true to the character of our community and craft a proposal that works for the voters here.”

The 2012 bond bid failed by less than 4.5 percent of the required 55 percent yes vote.

Trustees Kim Lasley and John Rajcic listen as Cori McDonald, Ramona Teachers Association president, said every member of the interview committee supported the recommendation to hire Urban Futures Inc. Sentinel photo/Maureen Robertson

With Isom Advisors, total cost to the district’s general fund is about $8,500, said Graeff. Campaign donations will pay campaign consulting fees of $12,500, and, if voters approve the bond, bond proceeds will pay the $35,000 pre-election planning fee and the $75,000 per bond sale fee, states information Isom Advisors provided the district.

“This is long overdue that this community gets a school bond for its public schools,” said Graeff.

Stoody said he didn’t believe Isom Advisors supported the district’s 2012 bond campaign committee.

“They were kind of ready to hand the monkey and put it back on our back rather than take it on their back,” he said.

“I’m very comfortable with this, very comfortable with this,” said trustee Kim Lasley, one of six district representatives on the interview committee that recommended Urban Futures at the school board meeting on Feb. 13.

Stoody also expressed disappointment that the consultant didn’t pursue “a simple idea that Mr. Rajcic had on making sure that mail-in ballots (were collected). That simple change right there, which I would have expected an adviser to give us, could have turned the coin right there.”

Stoody’s reference was to a recommendation trustee John Rajcic made before and after his election to the board in 2012.

Graeff said the Isom group plans to do things differently this time.

Serving with Graeff, Perfect and Lasley on the interview committee were Assistant Superintendent David Ostermann, Ramona Teachers Association President Cori McDonald and Sun Valley Council PTA President Kristina Krohne.

Related posts:

  1. Trustees poised to place $60M bond on November ballot
  2. Budget talks turn to school bond for Ramona
  3. Ramona school district inches toward bond bid
  4. School board president calls for town meeting
  5. Ramona trustees may try again for a school bond

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Posted by Maureen Robertson on Feb 21 2014. 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.

8 Comments for “Ramona trustees to review bond consultant’s proposed contract”

  1. Ramona Mom

    If Bob Stoody was concerned about "land mines" why wasn't he on the interview committee regarding the bond measure? Why did Mr. Stoody wait until the night of the school board meeting to bring up his concerns. Such a waste of time for the members of the committee time and energy. Just another example of why this school board needs to be recalled!!! Do your jobs, get a backbone, serve our children!!

  2. JimC

    It feels like RUSD is solely focused on passing a bond and is not addressing other means to improve the districts finances with the same level of zeal. I'm getting that same feeling you get when the car dealership switches you from the nice salesman to the closer.

  3. Jane Tanaka MD

    GROAN… We need a school bond to pass in Ramona, or else ultimately our district will be declared insolvent, and the entire economy will go down the commode. ISOM sells itself by claiming a greater than 90% success rate in winning bond elections.
    BUT..YES PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR GUT INTUITION BOB STOODY and other governance team members. Per the Contra Costa Times in 2010, " Oakland district spokesman Troy Flint said his district has tried to avoid negotiating bond contracts, opting instead for competitive financing when bonds are sold.

    "There are situations throughout California where an underwriter will pay for the bond campaign in exchange for the exclusive right to buy or sell the district's bonds," he said. "On occasion, this has resulted in abuse, with the underwriting firm getting compensated above market rates when they sell the bonds. We've tried to avoid finding ourselves in that position."
    Not that ISOM is offering to fund the bond campaign for us, but are they asking for exclusive rights to the district's bonds? And how much does $75K per bond series add up to, if the bond is for $34 M, or $$60M?

    • guest

      Seems ISOM is 0-1, which is 0%, in Ramona. You are right that the governance team members should pay attention to their 'gut intuition', as opposed to slick sales pitches. They should also keep focused on solving the primary and urgent problem of the COP debt, and avoid drinking the bath water and loading up a bond effort with other items – which they may convince themselves are 'essential' when in reality they are not – when it comes to the survival of RUSD (which is what they have been trying to sell the communty on as the reason for a bond). They should also address in serious terms the undeniable excess capacity in facilities and their attendant direct and indirect costs and potential savings (in realistic terms) as part and parcel to convicing the community to support a bond, and they should take concrete action regarding this matter prior to placing a bond on the ballot.

  4. Jane Tanaka MD

    In 2010-11 there was a bill to illegalize bond companies from doing the campaigns also… it did not pass, so this is still legal, but questionably ethical, as opined by many. ISOM has said publically that it isnt breaking any laws.
    It would take a lot more work to hire one company for the campaign another/others for the actualy bonds… but save Ramonans thousands of dollars per household over the next 30 years.
    Would it not be wise to investigate independent campaigning entitties , and also bond issuing entities?
    RUSD is vulnerable and desperate, and ISOM it. They will try to make the governance team "very comfortable" …please use facts and intuition to see through this.

  5. guest

    Mr. Stoody – thank you. You have alot of credibility with me. The reason is that as a member of the previous board that decided to encumber RUSD with the COP debt you were the sole dissenter – which was the correct decision as it so obviously has turned out.

    Please stick with your better judgement and instincts to do what you believe to be what is in the best interests of RUSD and the Ramona community.

    I also hope you you will be able to keep any discussions regarding a future bond initiative focused on immediate needs relative to keeping RUSD solvent -that is the COP debt. Please do not let it devolve into a Santa's wish list. Hopefully you can keep it focused on the paramount priorty.

  6. Guest

    Bob stoody doesn’t deserve a spot in the school board.

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