DR. JOHN RAJCIC (Ragic like magic) …RAMONA SCHOOL BOARD
My campaign promise was to stress the importance of education, oversight , follow the money and hold the administration accountable. This is the least I can do. In industry , the competition keeps one accountable . It seems to me that in education the only one that is truly held accountable is the student. Students are tested and graded.
About the Budget and current issues.
The budget (including union contracts) is singularly the most important policy statement made by the Board. The budget is a political document, in that it authoritatively allocates values . Should there be clay for the Ceramics Class or a tax deferred annuity for a Superintendent. Choices must be made, resources are finite. The Budget process makes those choices. I do not agree with many choices made.
I will not support a budget that is not balanced for a projected three year period.
My concerns ; enrollment is declining ( 100 students equals $800.000); the tax increases in Proposition 30 end ( sales tax increase in December 2016 and income tax increase in December of 2018) ; rest assured utilities will increase; long term debt payments will spike ;payments to the State Teacher Retirement System (STRS) increase from 8.25% to 19.1% in seven years ; buildings have been neglected and the incremental creep in salary schedules and fringe benefits are daunting. Probably the biggest negative impact will be declining enrollment. In my mind this means RUSD must start downsizing today and embracing the efficiency of digital learning. Unions will fight this move much like the railroad unions fought to be in the railroad business rather than the transportation business. We are entering a “learning” era and leaving a “teaching” era. Hanging on in hopes that the State will make good on past unpaid mandates is wishful thinking so is significant growth in the State economy. Some people will do well . Those working in the technological sector, the government and school districts will do well and everyone else not so well.. Average is over.. School closings and sale of much more RUSD property is inevitable. Ramona will have a difficult time transferring the General Fund long term debt, Certificate of Participation (COP), to a Bond Fund. Voter approval is not likely, this I believe.
I also take exception to the philosophy and organization of the Maintenance Department . My position is known to the Business Manger. RUSD maintenance personnel are all generalist. That is, that everyone is responsible for everything but no one is responsible for a specific thing. Maintenance must be organized like a football team everyone has a specific responsibility and then a general responsibility to do what it takes to win the game. Painters are primarily responsible for painting and other duties as assigned from time to time. Presently no one in the District is primarily responsible for painting. Look around everything needs paint, even the new schools can stand a touch up here and there. The “broken window theory” is alive and doing well in the RUSD. The RUSD maintenance and operation personnel are doing a less than adequate job .The poor organization of the department , funding levels and the diversion of State deferred maintenance funds to salaries has been the basic cause. To me it borders on malfeasance . Adoption of the Budget in the manner in which it is done is simply a rush to judgment to give salary increases and ignoring everything else that would make (RUSD) more viable .RUSD budgeting is a shame and puts the horse before the cart.
Anyone may e-mail Rajcicj8@aol.com and give me their input and I will share my beliefs with them. My reply will be forthright and in keeping with my campaign pledge to vote to maintain the RUSDs fixed assets and keep the District fiscally sound. I also made a pledge to not raise taxes. Some of my colleagues do not see themselves as politicians but what Boards do is political. Boards determine whose values shall prevail, that is what politics is about in our Democratic-Republic.
If you are not interested in politics that does not mean that politics is not interested in you. END.
PS. It may be more feasible to refinance the Certificate of Participation (COP)(30 million note with interest) by splitting it with 4 or 5 banks and other entities at a 4% 20-30 year notes. Refinancing may be helpful in eliminating huge “spikes” in payments. I believe , to 2017 the COP note payments remain as scheduled. But anything is negotiable starting today. Payments can also be made by keeping salaries at the 2013-2014 salary schedule and through attrition as enrollment declines. This will also enable the District with the closing of schools and sale of other property to deal with deferred maintenance and equipment upgrades. With digital learning on the horizon , building needs may change. 2013-2014 students were in school 175 days minus 2 for the fire situation. Thus 173 days . Now the 2014-15 budget calls for 180 student days and 184 for teachers. I have been assured that the students received a good education at 173 days, thanks to the Teachers. Keep teacher and student days at 173 . The payment schedule of the COP can be easily be met. That is the rest of the story!