Six Ramona moms raised the bar of parent participation in schools this year, and we’re delighted they’re staying in the public arena. Their unbiased Fact or Fiction presentation, their Facebook page, and their commitment to have at least one member at each school board meeting are welcome additions to the school district.
It was a rough year at Ramona Unified, and the Ramona Parents Coalition couldn’t have come at a better time. The stalemate between the teachers and district had reached a point most of us had never seen. The coalition broke the ice in an unbiased and professional way, earning the community’s attention and respect.
As the state budget improves, and as schools adjust to the governor’s new approach to funding — called Local Control Funding Formula — the need for community involvement increases.
It’s easy to fall into old patterns.
A frequent mantra at school board meetings is “it’s the state’s fault,” “the state made us do it,” “the state cut our funding.” The governor’s new funding formula shifts more responsibility for budget choices to school boards, giving trustees more control over spending. The past few years gave them a taste of that control when the state said they could “flex” some restricted dollars to the general fund. In Ramona, this helped maintain employee salaries and benefits through the worst of the recession. Maintenance and supplies are among areas that took a back seat during the worst of the fiscal crisis, and the district has some catching up to do.
There’s still $34 million owed on a nearly decade’s-old loan — and that’s if it’s paid off with one check. If not, the final tally will be closer to $52 million, according to the district. Projections continue to show fewer students in Ramona classrooms, a trend that started in the 2002-03 school year, and that's meant fewer dollars for the district.
Trustees plan a community workshop in the performing arts center at Olive Peirce Middle School from 9 to 11 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 17, to discuss long-term fiscal planning for our public schools. Everything from selling district property to asking property owners for more money is on the table. We encourage strong attendance with open-minded thinking, questions, ideas and suggestions.
Ramona’s weathered a great deal in the past decade, starting with two major firestorms in four years and ending with what many call the Great Recession. If there ever were a time for healing with a fresh outlook and renewed energy, it’s now. We laud the parents coalition for leading the charge.