Faced with a projected deficit of $1.15 million for the coming school year, Ramona Unified School District’s five elected trustees will hold a special meeting at 7 p.m. Monday to review layoff proposals.
The public meeting will be in the board room of the Wilson Administrative Center, 720 Ninth St.
State law requires school districts by March 15 to give preliminary layoff notices to all teachers and other certificated employees who potentially could not be rehired.
Early in his review of the budget shortfall at last Thursday’s school board meeting, Assistant Superintendent David Ostermann said the top priority is to “protect essential services and programs for the children.”
Other priorities are to maintain reasonable class sizes and as many jobs as possible, support employee compensation and benefits to the fullest extent possible and “position ourselves for an even more challenging budget year, not next year, but in 2011-12,” said Ostermann.
Based on the governor’s January proposed budget, Ramona’s public schools face a deficit of $9.5 million next school year. With proposed cuts totaling $8.36 million, the district will still be short $1.15 million, said Ostermann, “and much could change with the final enactment of the state budget.”
Budget shifts, program cuts and reductions in staff are among district plans to meet the proposed cuts for the 2010-11 budget year that starts July 1.
“If additional cuts to education occur, the 2010-11 fiscal health of the district will be in jeopardy,” said Ostermann. “For 2011-12, dramatic layoffs and employee concession will be necessary.”
Of the 16 teachers who accepted the district’s retirement incentive package of $80,000 in December, 12 will not be replaced, for a savings of $1.35 million, Ostermann reported.
“The budget’s being balanced on the backs of our children,” said school board member Luan Burman Rivera.
“We’re going into this budget with year after year of cuts, so it’s not like we’re starting from a high point,” Burman Rivera said during the board’s discussion of the budget shortfall last month. “...We’re starting from that place where we’ve had reduction after reduction after reduction, and the way that Prop. 98 works is that a lower base each year means a lower base the next year as well, so those cuts to us are really compounded, year after year.”
No one knows how much, if any, of the governor’s proposals to meet a projected $20 billion state shortfall will be approved by the state Legislature. The governor is expected to present a revised budget in May, and school officials continue to work on a number of possible scenarios, Ostermann said this week.
“We are hopeful and fairly confident we will get extra dollars from the state,” he said.
Even though school districts are required to approve budgets for the 2010-11 school year by June 30, based on past years, the state will not have a budget until after that.
School board member Dan Lopez thanked Supt. Robert Graeff and the district’s three assistant superintendents—Joe Annicharico, Cathy A. Pierce and Ostermann—”for the amazing amount of time and effort that’s been put into trying to get us information on this crazy budget, and I just really appreciate the hours that you put in above and beyond.”
Among other business at the board’s Feb. 18 meeting:
• Kate DeWeerd, president of the Sun Valley Council PTA, congratulated Barnett Elementary School student Haley Weber for earning outstanding distinction at the regional level in National PTA Reflections Program competition for her award-winning dance choreography video titled “Beauty in Blue.” Haley is one of 16 students selected from among 7,000 entries in San Diego and Imperial counties to compete at the state level, said DeWeerd.
“There are many people to thank, because we know the schools can’t do it all,” said DeWeerd after showing Haley’s award-winning video. “It really takes the whole community to make artists out of children.”
In addition to Barnett Reflections chair Shelley Tinkess and Barnett PTA president Kristina Krohne, DeWeerd thanked Ramona/Julian Academy of Dance, where Haley has been a student since age 3. Kindergarten through 12th-grade students annually submit works of art to be judged in the Reflections program, in its 40th year.
“Most importantly, I would like to thank Haley Weber, because we’re all so proud of you,” said DeWeerd.
• Graeff announced that the district’s assistant superintendent of education services, Cathy A. Pierce, Ed.D., is the Curriculum and Instruction Administrator of the Year for San Diego and Imperial counties.