By Maureen Robertson
Trustees approved a revised calendar for the 2013-14 school year that reflects five fewer days for students — but that could change.
The revised calendar reflects the contract the Ramona Teachers Association and Ramona Unified School District ratified this month. It calls for 5.5 fewer work days for teachers. Five are teaching days and one-half is a non-instructional day.
The end of the school year had been June 11, 2014. With the 5.5 furlough days, the school year will end on June 4 for students and June 5 for teachers.
If the district receives more money than anticipated, the 2013-14 contract calls for restoring some of the furlough days “as paid work days for RTA unit members.” If, by the second budget update of the year in March, district revenues are at least $46 million, two of the unpaid furlough days will be restored. If it receives at least $46.5 million by the March update, three of the days will be restored.
The question is whether students will receive the additional days of instruction. Before that can happen, the district and RTA have to agree to it in negotiations.
While the consensus among district and RTA leaders is that it makes sense for the students to have the additional instruction days, that’s not what the contract states. Once families plan for graduations, with some relatives and friends making advance reservations, it’s difficult to change the date, said Superintendent Robert Graeff.
But, if the district learns earlier in the school year that the money is there, “the board can make that determination, but it has to be negotiated,” said Graeff.
“I think it would be up to the negotiations teams to get back together and have that conversation,” agreed Donna Braye-Romero, RTA’s outgoing president.
Temecula had a similar situation this year, Graeff said. That school board kept 12th grade graduation where it was, but students in kindergarten through 11th grade received the additional teaching days.
Cori McDonald, incoming RTA president, agreed it’s a topic worth discussing. But, she stressed on June 21, she will not be RTA president until July 1 and so could not speak for the organization.
The district does not yet know if it will receive the additional dollars, David Ostermann, district superintendent of administrative services, said on Monday. He hopes to know more after he and two other fiscal services employees attend a School Services of California workshop in Ontario on July 17.
“If total revenues for the state are more than projected, then by Proposition 98, schools as a whole are due a portion of those dollars,” he said. “A lot of times we don’t know that until the year is done. Sometimes they make adjustments mid-year.” Ostermann believes “there’s more revenue out there, but we will have to wait to see.”
“If we were truly trying to do what’s best for kids, it would be that (restore teaching days),” said Graeff. “...Why would we not try to do that?”