Community workshop set for Saturday
By Bob Graeff
With everyone anxious to put last year behind us, our local schools are preparing to open our doors for more than 5,700 students on Aug. 26. With union agreements already in place for the new year and a slightly improved state budget, parents and staff can look forward to a year where teaching and learning take center stage — just as it should be.
Before the school year starts, however, the board has scheduled a two-hour Community Workshop on Saturday, Aug. 17, starting at 9 a.m. at the Performing Arts Center at Olive Peirce Middle School. Following brief staff presentations on district budget forecasts and various options for improving long-term fiscal health, community members will have an opportunity to express their own points of view on the information presented. Hopefully, the board will hear community recommendations related to selling district property, closing schools, floating another school bond, reducing operating costs, reducing energy costs, reducing transportation services, and/or any other significant ideas for addressing fiscal challenges.
The governing board will preside over the workshop, but hopes to hear dozens of comments from interested community members during this event.
More importantly, however, district leadership is more excited than ever to be opening this new school year:
We have eight new site administrators and two new cabinet officers to help re-shape an energized, positive, and far-reaching vision for the schools of Ramona Unified.
We are assigning all remaining elementary teachers on the layoff list from 2012 to school sites for the first day of school as substitute teachers. If enrollment comes in as projected, each of these teachers will be returned to full-time contract employment this fall.
Due to retirements from last June and throughout the summer, we are continuing to hire new teachers — something we have not been able to do for several years.
The board has adopted an exciting set of new priorities for the coming year — including a commitment to support Common Core, STEM, career and college readiness, and to develop long-term fiscal solutions.
We have a signed state budget — and a slightly improved economic forecast for public education. Part of the new budget is significant new funding for implementing Common Core State Standards.
We will begin the year at relative labor peace with all employee groups — and will do everything within our power to remain that way.
It is no secret that last spring’s well-publicized labor issues took center stage in our 10 schools and in many segments of the local community. Although much work needs to be done on both sides to move forward in a positive direction, the governing board wants to do everything possible to redirect our schools and employees to a positive direction where teaching and learning is the “number one” priority. Come join us as we begin anew in “preparing today’s learners for tomorrow’s world.”
Bob Graeff, Ed.D, is superintendent of the Ramona Unified School District.