Saturday workshop targets fiscal health of Ramona school district

School officials interview potential bond consultants By Maureen Robertson What a difference a year makes, Ramona Unified School District Assistant Superintendent David Ostermann said at the start of his report on the governor’s budget proposal for 2014-15. “Fourteen months ago I was standing here and we were talking about Proposition 30 and what would happen to schools if it did not pass, the devastating cuts that we could be facing,” Ostermann said. Voters in November 2012 approved Proposition 30, the temporary sales and income tax increase, “and now the governor is proposing the biggest increase to school funding since 2000-01,” Ostermann told trustees at their Jan. 16 meeting. Despite that, Ramona Unified School District faces a projected deficit of $7.2 million in two years, he said. The school board has scheduled a community workshop for Saturday, Jan. 25, to discuss a long-term fiscal plan for the district. A bond measure in November 2014 will be among topics. Superintendent Robert Graeff discusses the school district’s community workshop set for Saturday. At left is Dawn Perfect, school board president. Sentinel photo/Maureen Robertson The workshop will be from 9 to 10:30 a.m. in the performing arts center at Olive Peirce Middle School, 1521 Hanson Lane. It will start with a brief presentation from the district and will be followed with public comments, questions and suggestions. While the formal part of the workshop will be 90 minutes, "I don't think we're going to be running for the door after 90 minutes," school board president Dawn Perfect said, responding to a question at the board's Jan. 16 meeting. As occurred after the board's first community workshop in August, some people had to leave right away and others stayed and talked, she said. "By having 90 minutes of formal time, then it leaves it open for some less formal conversations to take place," she said. Perfect called the workshop "a huge opportunity for community members to help us develop whatever that plan will be moving forward, and there is some urgency involved if we're considering some of the solutions, like a potential bond." Trustees have made the district’s long-term fiscal health a key priority. While a bond may be part of the solution, “there’s many parts of that package, so we’ve been simultaneously working on several pieces, which we intend to lay out completely before the community” at the workshop, Superintendent Robert Graeff, Ed.D., said. A panel of school officials has been interviewing bond consultants, said Graeff, who received permission from trustees to bring a Trustees Kim Lasley and John Rajcic listen as Assistant Superintendent David Ostermann presents his report on the governor’s proposed budget. Sentinel photo/Maureen Robertson recommended consultant to their Feb. 13 meeting. A bond consultant would work with a team that would include a strategist, financial adviser, attorney and bond underwriter, said Graeff. “We’d certainly want to survey the community and see what the community thinks — informally and extremely formally and scientifically,” said Graeff. Those interviewing possible bond consultants include Graeff, Ostermann, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Tony Newman, Senior Director of Education Services Theresa Grace, school board president Dawn Perfect, board vice president, Kim Lasley, teachers union president Cori McDonald and Kristina Krohne, Sun Valley Council PTA president.

   
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