By Maureen Robertson
Close a school, sell school district property, put another bond on the ballot, restructure the district’s $34 million loan, cut administrators. These are among ideas that likely will be discussed at an as-yet unscheduled town meeting to tackle Ramona Unified School District’s fiscal woes.
Bob Stoody, a school board member for the past 10 years and this year’s school board president, called for the community brainstorming session with an eye on what he calls “a multi-pronged approach, a workshop for long-term financial planning, looking at all different avenues.”
He discussed his idea during a one-day retreat the school board held in January. Team building, leadership, and the state’s open meeting law were among retreat topics. Stoody’s suggestion came at the end of a detailed review of the Nov. 6 bond election and possible reasons the district’s bid for the $66 million general obligation bond, Proposition R, failed. With an 81 percent voter turnout, Prop. R received 50.6 percent voter support, 4.4 percent shy of the required 55 percent.
Based on a post-election analysis by Isom Advisors, the district’s bond consultant, only three of the district’s 21 precincts supported the bond by 55 percent or more. Two of them were in town, what Superintendent Bob Graeff said are the Ramona Elementary and Hanson Elementary regions, and one was in San Diego Country Estates, “probably the Barnett community.”
Failure of the bond leaves possible options, the Isom report states: Go again to voters in 2014, restructure the $34 million the district owes, and cut programs to accommodate future loan payments.
“I’d like to brainstorm, to have a workshop with the understanding that ideas that come out of this workshop would then be going to specific committees or groups to continue on,” said Stoody, adding, "It's for the community."