By a more than three-fourths majority — with 99 percent voting — members of the Ramona Teachers Association overwhelming approved a vote authorizing the RTA’s executive board to call for a strike action “when and if it becomes necessary” to the teachers’ efforts to achieve what they believe is a fair contract settlement with the Ramona Unified School District, according to a statement from the teachers union.
“Ramona teachers do not want to strike,” said RTA President Donna Braye-Romero, “but we are not willing to accept the district’s unfair, unreasonable imposition. The cuts will not only cripple us financially, but will ultimately harm Ramona’s students and our entire community. If all other efforts fail, we now have the unity and support to strike as a final option.”
Ramona teachers and many parental and community supporters are dismayed by the district’s unilateral April 16 action that imposed cuts of 7.82 percent for 2012-2013, and 9.4 percent each for 2013-2014 and 2014-2015, says the statement.
“These cuts translate into a total three-year cut of $19,287 for the average Ramona teacher,” said Braye-Romero. “But even more drastic is their insistence on six furlough days between now and the end of this school year and backdating health and welfare cuts to last February. The average Ramona teacher will lose $2,831 from each of their May and June paychecks, leaving many unable to pay mortgages, rents, car payments or care for dependent children or elderly relatives.”
RUSD’s finances show a 15 percent reserve fund balance at the end of the 2011-12 school year, states the RTA release. In addition, a second interim budget revealed an additional $800,000, a figure the union contends the district knew at the time, but withheld from both the state-sanctioned fact finder and RTA. Also, the RTA statement continues, the district will see an infusion of new money in next year’s budget and for several years to come from the passage of last fall’s Prop. 30. Now is the time for prudent caution, not knee-jerk reaction, RTA states.
“RTA has repeatedly offered to take reasonable cuts, as evidenced by our last offer of 10.5 percent over two years,” said Braye-Romero. “We basically agreed to accept the fact finder’s recommended settlement for the first year if the district would only agree to language that would restore money cut from teachers when new funds accrue, but the district repeatedly refused to compromise. Why are they intent on breaking teachers’ backs financially and on cutting vital instructional days for our students now when it isn’t necessary?