Cuts and changes at Ramona school district

By Maureen Robertson

In a special meeting Monday, Ramona school board reduced the hours of 31 workers and appointed Olive Peirce Middle School Vice Principal Pauline Leavitt principal of James Dukes Elementary School, effective July 1.

The actions come after the board in a previous meeting OK’d final layoff notices to seven teachers and released seven other teachers from their temporary assignments, effective at the end of the school year. At that meeting, the board also hired Anne Staffieri, director of human resources for the Valley Center-Pauma school district, to replace Dr. Joe Annicharico as assistant superintendent of human resources. Annicharico is retiring after 35 years with the district.

Leavitt, at OPMS the past four years and with San Diego city schools the previous 12 years, will replace Paige Schwartz, James Dukes principal for seven years. Schwartz wants to return to the classroom, school board members Dawn Perfect and Bob Stoody said.

Staffieri’s annual salary will be $129,101. Leavitt’s salary will be $112,389.

Both thanked the board.

“It’s a pleasure to be here tonight,” Staffieri said at the April school board meeting. “I am thrilled for this new opportunity and very excited to be joining your administrative team here in Ramona Unified. Thank you very much.”

“I want to thank the board and the cabinet for this opportunity,” Leavitt said at the special meeting Monday. “I’m really excited to join the James Dukes team. I’m going to make you proud.”

The teacher layoffs, combined with attrition from retirements, is expected to save the district about $700,000. Reduction in hours for 31 non-teaching, non-certificated employees, with three of them then ineligible for health insurance benefits, will save the district approximately $139,575.

“We feel the small amount of savings from these reductions of approximately $135,000 won’t begin to resolve the projected budget problems as a district,” said Betsy Bargo, president of the California School Employees Association representing the 31 employees.

Bargo said the savings are a drop in the bucket considering the anticipated deficit next year of $2.1 million, “but it is a huge impact to our employees and to the students they support.”

She asked the board not to approve the cuts, saying more cuts are expected.

“Our unit has suffered many employee layoffs and reductions in the past few years, but the workload remains the same,” she said, and CSEA members “are doing a lot more work with fewer people. Whether we are in declining enrollment or not, classified employees’ work remains the same.”

Rodger Dohm, school board president, called the situation frustrating.

“Honestly, we don’t want to do it, and it may seem like it’s a very fleeting task to take such little money, but, honestly, we really have no money, and it’s going to get worse.”

   
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