School District and Teachers Association Need to Work Together

As with many government and state entities, the Ramona school district faces increasing costs while revenue (declining enrollment) continues to decline. Deficit budget spending must end and a balanced budget must be put in place. Previous school boards have not addressed the hard budget issues, and deficit spending has been passed along year after year. Superintendent Robert Graeff stated the grim news in last week’s Sentinel, projecting an end-of-year deficit of $2.8 million, and for the school year 2013-14 an even larger deficit of $8.3 million. This deficit situation may or may not be accurate, but it is not new, and has been building for several years (paying off a $25 million dollar loan, approved by a prior school board used to build Hanson Elementary and various other improvement projects has also added to the deficit spending). Transparency is the new buzz word for honest negotiations, and it’s certainly pertinent here. Leadership is another quality that needs to be demonstrated by both the district and the Ramona Teachers Association (RTA).

Superintendent Graeff has a plan that he will be presenting to the school board which proposes cuts and reductions in several areas (but you can only cut so many bus drivers, janitors and office staff before there is no support) and has reached out to the RTA to start a conversation on how to help reduce benefit and salary costs which amount to nearly 90% of the budget. Although a final budget is not in place, and won’t be for several months, now is the time for all parties to stop the finger-pointing and start to work together on possible solutions. The further you plan ahead, the easier to make adjustments. The district and the RTA have the opportunity to rise to the occasion and really show that it is “all about the kids.” The question is, will they?

Jeff Mitchell

Publisher

   
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