School finances topic of community workshop

Ramona school board members and Superintendent Robert Graeff listen to a speaker. Sentinel file photo
Ramona school board members and Superintendent Robert Graeff listen to a speaker. Sentinel file photo

Brainstorming session slated from 9-11 a.m. on Saturday

By Maureen Robertson

Number 1 on Ramona Unified School District Board’s priority list for 2013-14 is improving the district’s fiscal health, and trustees are asking Ramonans to help them achieve that goal.

Trustees plan a community workshop to discuss long-term fiscal planning for the district in the Olive Peirce Middle School performing arts center, 1521 Hanson Lane, from 9 to 11 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 17.

With the failure of its $66 million bond bid in November and with payments looming on a $25 million loan a previous

board approved, the district has several options — float another bond, refinance the loan that has grown to $34 million, sell district property, close a school, cut costs, reduce transportation services — or a combination of these and perhaps other ideas.

That’s where the community comes in, trustees agree, inviting everyone to the brainstorming session.

Bob Stoody, board president, introduced the idea at a Ramona Forum meeting in December. A majority of the voters in November — 50.6 percent — approved the bond, but the district failed to receive the 55 percent required to pass it.

Voters told the school board, “we want you to use the resources you have available without a bond,” so the district will schedule a workshop to listen to the community’s ideas, said Stoody.

“OK, where do you want us to consolidate?” he asked at the forum. “Could it be a school site? Could it be the way that we deal with the amount of administrators?...We’re going to be wanting your help.”

The workshop will begin with a brief presentation of background and forecasts from the district, and then the focus will be on the community.

The end of the workshop is not the end of the discussion, trustees agreed. More likely, it will be the beginning of a community effort, said Stoody.

   
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