School district calls back five teachers

David Ostermann, assistant superintendent of administrative services for the Ramona school district, responds to a question during the school board meeting last Thursday. At right is Cathy Pierce, assistant superintendent of education services.
David Ostermann, assistant superintendent of administrative services for the Ramona school district, responds to a question during the school board meeting last Thursday. At right is Cathy Pierce, assistant superintendent of education services.

By Maureen Robertson

Passage of the state budget carries good news for five of seven teachers who received layoff notices this spring.

The state budget, approved after Ramona Unified School District trustees OK’d a $49.6 million budget for the 2011-12 fiscal year, means another $2 million for Ramona, said Assistant Superintendent David Ostermann. The result is what the state calls “flat funding” to schools, not the $330 less per student the district had budgeted.

“We still don’t have, even a week later, much of the nitty-gritty details of what that necessarily will mean for Ramona,” Ostermann said at the school board meeting on July 7.

Ostermann planned to attend budget workshops this week and next to learn more.

In her first presentation as RUSD’s assistant superintendent of human resources, Anne Staffieri said that, based on the state budget, “I would recommend that the board act to bring back five of the seven teachers that were laid off.”

The callbacks will “restore the elementary music program, special education preschool staffing, foreign language at Ramona High School staffing and math staffing at Mountain Valley (Academy),” she said.

The five teachers are Jacqueline Linares at Ramona High School, Valerie McElroy at Ramona Community and Hanson Elementary schools, Heather Rager at Olive Peirce Middle School and Ramona Elementary, Diana Ramsey at Ramona Elementary, and Catherine Welch at Ramona Community/Mountain Valley Academy.

Not receiving callbacks are Chelsea Gammil, who taught kindergarten at Mount Woodson Elementary, and Brenda Schneeberger, who taught English at Ramona High. Paige Schwartz, former James Dukes Elementary principal who recently resigned that post for family reasons, will teach kindergarten at Mount Woodson Elementary. Enrollment was the reason for the layoff at Ramona High, according to the district’s human resources office.

Staffieri replaces Joe Annicharico as assistant superintendent of human resources. Annicharico retired, effective June 30, after 35 years with the district.

Legislators approved a revised state budget by majority vote along party lines after Gov. Jerry Brown had vetoed their original budget, said Ostermann. The revised budget, signed by Brown, contains the projection of an additional $4 billion in revenue. In December, the state director of finance will determine if that projection is on target, said Ostermann.

If the state projections are off by less than $1 billion, no change in K-12 funding will be required, said Ostermann. If the shortfall is between $1 billion and $2 billion, K-12 education will be unaffected but there will be additional cuts to programs such as child care and community colleges.

If the shortfall is $2 billion or more, schools will see reductions proportional to the shortfall, said Ostermann. School districts could then shorten the school year up to seven days in addition to the five days they already have the authority to do, he said.

“So it could be 12 days shorter than it currently is, but the only way it saves money is if the school board was successful negotiating with employees,” said RUSD Superintendent Robert Graeff.

Given the state’s budget scenario, “it sounds like we’re (the state) guaranteeing you flat funding until June, except we might change it in December,” said board member Dan Lopez.

The additional $2 million for RUSD in the state budget means, if state projections are correct, the district could end the budget year with a balance of $2.5 million rather than the $833 balance in the budget the board approved last month. But, according to Ostermann’s multi-year projection, unless something changes RUSD will end the 2012-13 year with a $2.6 million deficit and the 2013-14 year with an $8.5 million deficit.

   
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