Alternatives to Prop. R

By Brian Stemm

In response to Damon Baldwin’s Oct. 24 article concerning Prop. R, “The upcoming bond…How does it affect Ramona’s future?”

I would encourage all to look at additional issues in this matter. Who will manage this money? Will it be the same leadership that put us in this situation in the first place, the leadership that has taken insufficient action over the past four years to cut costs?

In 2008-09, there was ample visibility of troubled economic times ahead. The tack that has been taken by the teachers union and the district administration has been to push this down the road and spend more. Why is providing $66M more to spend (mismanage) a smart move?

We must recognize that we are not Poway, we do not have the same demographic nor business tax base. We need to not try and compete. Increasing taxes (and bonds are a temporary tax) added with the coming tax increases from the federal government and state will drive businesses away, lowering the tax revenue even further.

You may see a bump in revenue in year one, but as businesses leave and fewer people are employed, you will find you have cut your own throat, with decreasing property values and tax revenue.

As for technology and the new “21st century schools” moniker, it does not replace value of qualified teachers/aides; iPads are not the answer and would suggest some of the data developed by this district is skewed—and I have specific examples. I would suggest adding an aide to those rooms will result in higher test scores. We simply cannot and should not attempt to afford “an iPad in every backpack!”

With all of that, the damage done over the past six to eight years has put the district in a situation where Prop. R appears necessary. However, we must push for true diligence in how that money is managed and push for further cost cutting. Examples of measure that might be of value:

  1. Close RCS and move the district office and Montecito HS there.
  2. Close RE, Montecito, district office and facilities infrastructure—sell the property, pay down debt with proceeds.
  3. Sell all remaining excess property. Pay down debt with proceeds.

4.Subcontract/Outsource Facilities/janitorial, Food Services, Transportation, accounting, IT and any other “services” oriented departments.

  1. Trim the district management to a single superintendent and an operations manager. Under the Ops manager have HR, curriculum management, and subcontract management.
  2. No extra spending— conferences, off site meetings, etc., unless mandated by law.
  3. No district cell phones or cars for individuals.
  4. No “lifetime” benefits.
  5. Health care participation on par with the public workforce. No freebies.
  6. Use the contract time, after school hours, for all in-service trainings. No more paying for substitutes during school hours for these items.
  7. No consultants for at least five years
  8. No “teachers on assignment” for at least five years.
  9. No “new” anything (other than basic replacement items) for five years
  10. 5% wage cut across the board…then wage freeze for 5 years
  11. No overtime.
  12. No bonuses for administrators (or anyone).

Simply put — deep and purposeful spending cuts — for getting the district financial house in order, must occur (regardless of what happens with Prop R). Then the district must live within the community’s means. No more empire building.

We must recognize, as the current environment in California displays, higher tax rates and onerous regulations result in less commercial activity, higher unemployment, lower property values, and lower tax revenues. No on every proposition that increases taxes. No on 30, 38, 39.

Brian Stemm is a Ramona resident.

   
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