A battle is brewing between the Ramona Unified School District and its teachers union.
At a meeting Monday night, the school board voted to implement a new, three-year contract for teachers. The contract is a combination of salary cuts, furlough days and benefits contribution.
The cuts amount to 7.8 percent for the average teacher this school year and 9.4 percent the next two years, according to a statement from the school district. District officials blame declining student enrollment, less state funding and rising healthcare costs.
“It’s an ugly step, but it’s the new normal in public education,” said Ramona Superintendent Robert Graeff, Ed.D. “We’re the last district to come on board.”
Ramona teachers’ union president Donna Braye-Romero calls the new contract “egregious.”
“Everyone is shocked and did not think it would come to this, that they would impose such a drastic and Draconian cut,” Braye-Romero said.
Now, the union is looking into filing a legal injunction to stop the contract from taking effect. Members will vote next week whether or not to authorize a strike.
Earlier this month, it seemed the district was preparing for a teachers’ strike. The district placed ads in local newspapers calling for emergency substitutes. The job paid $275 a day, much more than the usual rate of $95 a day.