Ramona school trustees will meet soon to take another look at a proposed contract with the firm that will work on a campaign for voter approval of a bond, likely in November.
We applaud the school board for responding to member Bob Stoody’s concerns about what a contract might mean after the election.
If Ramona voters approve a school bond, an as-yet-to-be-determined debt will shift from the district’s to the community’s shoulders. That makes “after the election” specifics worth meticulous scrutiny.
As a businessman, Stoody has some experience with contracts, but, he admitted, he’s no expert. He asked that an outside firm advise the district to avoid potential pitfalls or land mines.
We believe Stoody’s concern “to make the bond livable, to make it responsible to the taxpayers” is worth the second review. He's shown before that he views public matters with a critical eye. Serving his third term on the board, he is the only member of a previous school board who voted against the district borrowing $25 million in 2004. When asked why, he said he believed the district could have achieved its goals with an $11 million loan.
That $25 million, with interest, has blossomed into $34 million if paid off today and will top $52 million if payments continue on schedule through 2032, according to the district. It’s one of the reasons the district is in fiscal hot water.
Two years ago, when trustees asked voters to approve a $66 million bond, Stoody insisted that reference to the loan — called a certificate of participation, or COP — be included clearly in the proposition on the ballot, so voters had full disclosure.
We understand the enthusiasm school officials have for a bond. They’re tired of tight budgets, and some fear a state takeover if the district can’t pay its bills.
Despite an eagerness to get started on a bond campaign, the board showed consideration for the community two weeks ago by agreeing to have two of its members — Stoody and Dawn Perfect — work with the district superintendent to refine the contract.