Teachers at the Ramona Unified School District are being asked to take a salary decrease of almost 10 percent, in part to help the district pay for loans it took out to build new facilities.

As we outlined in this story last week, the small rural district took out millions of dollars in loans to build new schools and upgrade facilities. The officials who took out those loans hoped to pass a bond measure to pay off their debts. But the conservative community has repeatedly refused to pass a bond, and rejected the latest measure in November. Now the loans are coming due.

Meanwhile, a protracted labor dispute between the district and its teachers union has continued for more than a year. The district declared an impasse with the union in March and the two sides have been in mediation ever since.

Superintendent Robert Graeff said the loan payments account for just one portion of the deficit the district is facing next year. He said the repayments account for just $500,000 of an estimated $3.5 million deficit.

“The bulk of that would have been there whether we had taken a loan out or not,” Graeff said.

Donna Braye-Romero, president of the Ramona Teachers Association, disputes the district’s numbers. She says Ramona Unified has continually projected that it will end the school year with a negative balance, only to find that it actually has money left over to carry to the following year.

And Braye-Romero said it’s not right to ask teachers to sacrifice to pay off a loan they had little to do with.

“Even if we worked for free, they couldn’t pay off the loan, and it’s not fair to ask us to work for free because they made a bad choice,” Braye-Romero said.

Like every California school district, Ramona will have to wait until January to find out how large its projected deficit is for the 2013-14 school year. Gov. Jerry Brown is expected to increase school funding after the passage of Proposition 30, which guarantees billions of dollars for education spending.

Braye-Romero said the union won’t let the district fall into insolvency, but she said teachers need to see what the governor’s numbers are before agreeing to any deal with the district. She said teachers in Ramona are being asked to take pay cuts that are excessive and far greater than elsewhere in the county.

Last year, teachers in the San Diego Unified School District agreed to forgo pay raises they had been promised and to continue taking five unpaid furlough days in order to avoid more than 1,000 teacher layoffs. However, as we noted in this story, most district teachers still got pay increases during the year.

We’ll be keeping our eye on Ramona to see what happens.

Will Carless is an investigative reporter at Voice of San Diego currently focused on local education. You can reach him at will.carless@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5670.

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    Written by Will Carless

    Will Carless is the former head of investigations at Voice of San Diego. He currently lives in Montevideo, Uruguay, where he is a freelance foreign correspondent and occasional contributor to VOSD. You can reach him at will.carless.work@gmail.com.

    6 comments
    Bob Sanche
    Bob Sanche subscriber

    Then you as a responsible citizen should also help share in paying for the problems that the school board and district caused since it is obvious that you believe in being fiscally responsible. Check your facts before you pop off on teachers lining their pockets.

    Jewel
    Jewel

    Then you as a responsible citizen should also help share in paying for the problems that the school board and district caused since it is obvious that you believe in being fiscally responsible. Check your facts before you pop off on teachers lining their pockets.

    Edward Teyssier
    Edward Teyssier subscriber

    The teachers should definitely be ask to "contribute" to solve the district's financial woes. The teachers are always promoting fiscal irresponsibility through higher salaries and are always actively engaged in the politics promoting the district's bond measures and campaigning for certain school board members that will help line the teachers' pockets, hence it is only fitting that the teachers should have to share in the problems they helped create.

    Edwardtlp
    Edwardtlp

    The teachers should definitely be ask to "contribute" to solve the district's financial woes. The teachers are always promoting fiscal irresponsibility through higher salaries and are always actively engaged in the politics promoting the district's bond measures and campaigning for certain school board members that will help line the teachers' pockets, hence it is only fitting that the teachers should have to share in the problems they helped create.

    Tim Jenkins
    Tim Jenkins subscriber

    the cost of providing an education to the children of a community is the responsibility of the taxpayers. perhaps the taxpayers would like the teachers to paint the schools, after they purchase the pain. the taxpayers should also demand that the police officers protecting them should purchase their own patrol cars. Firemen should have to buy their own fire trucks. providing an education to the children of a community is in the best interest of all the members of the community. good businesses entering a community look at the social activities that a community offers, schools, librarys' parks, good streets and much more. these are all important for a city to grow. without them business will look elsewhere to open their doors.

    red
    red

    the cost of providing an education to the children of a community is the responsibility of the taxpayers. perhaps the taxpayers would like the teachers to paint the schools, after they purchase the pain. the taxpayers should also demand that the police officers protecting them should purchase their own patrol cars. Firemen should have to buy their own fire trucks. providing an education to the children of a community is in the best interest of all the members of the community. good businesses entering a community look at the social activities that a community offers, schools, librarys' parks, good streets and much more. these are all important for a city to grow. without them business will look elsewhere to open their doors.


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