Ramona teachers union leaders call for strike authorization vote

Donna Braye-Romero, president of the Ramona teachers union, talks to teachers, parents, and students participating in a rally by the flagpole outside the district offices before the school board meeting April 16. Sentinel photo/Maureen Robertson
Donna Braye-Romero, president of the Ramona teachers union, talks to teachers, parents, and students participating in a rally by the flagpole outside the district offices before the school board meeting April 16. Sentinel photo/Maureen Robertson

School board to vote on changes to teachers contract in special meeting tonight

Monday, April 22—

Ramona Teachers Association’s executive board has unanimously approved calling a general membership meeting to take a strike authorization vote.

The date, though imminent, is yet to be determined, states a release from the teachers union.

“RTA members are energized by the magnitude of devastating, punitive cuts to salary and benefits Ramona Unified School District Superintendent Robert Graeff plans to recommend for unilateral imposition at a special called RUSD school board meeting Monday, April 22, at 7 p.m., at the Ramona High School Performing Arts Wing, 1401 Hanson Lane,” states the release. “RTA members plan to stand strong as they and their supporters rally to protest the move and call for a fair and reasonable settlement. The protest rally will begin at 6:30 p.m.”

“This horrific action is planned despite the fact that Ramona teachers have repeatedly offered to accept reasonable cuts from a fair number of furlough days,” said RTA President Donna Braye-Romero. “Such behavior can only be described as punitive and retaliatory. Just as they threatened at last Monday’s post-fact finding meeting, they have increased the amount of cuts because we could not accept their untenable proposal that day, by upping them to the maximum 8 percent for 2012-13.”

Imposition calls for an 8 percent cut in 2012-13, a 9.4 percent cut in 2013-14 and another 9.4 percent in 2014-15, more than the recent fact-finding report recommended, states the release.

“There are only two paychecks left this year out of which concessions can be taken. This means that the average Ramona teacher will lose half or more of their gross pay from both the May and June warrants,” said Braye-Romero. “Dr. Graeff is recommending these egregious cuts and the board seems intent on approving them, knowing full well that it will leave many teachers unable to pay their mortgages or rent, their car payments, or for food and utilities for them and their families.”

In addition, the cuts have severe implications for the community’s children, who will lose five days of education

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Teachers hold signs in a packed school board meeting room Tuesday, April 16. The special board meeting tonight at 7 will be held in the Ramona High Performing Arts Wing. Sentinel photo/Maureen Robertson

this year and for the next two years, at a time when surrounding districts are restoring instructional days due to the increase in funding coming to the state’s public schools — including Ramona — from the passage of Prop 30, the release continues, adding that the district will be saving money from increased class sizes.

The cuts will result in the district losing teachers to other districts they say treat their employees with more respect and dignity.

“They will make Ramona one of the lowest paying districts in the county, leaving it unable to attract or retain high quality teachers motivated to help the community’s children achieve ever-increasing standards of excellence,” states the release.

“The quality of a community’s schools is also a key factor in attracting business and development and in the maintenance of property values,” said Braye-Romero. “We urge the citizens of Ramona to join with us at Monday’s protest rally, for the sake of our children and indeed, for the sake of our entire community.”

For details about tonight’s special school board meeting and for other information related to the ongoing differences between the teachers union and district, see the district’s website, ramonausd.net.

Information also is on the RTA website, ramonateachers.com.

   
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