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Ripon still pondering $1M plus in cuts

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POSTED January 30, 2009 1:16 a.m.
RIPON – Even after a special meeting where the Board of Education weighed their options about how to deal with a deficit of more than $1 million, the Ripon Unified School District still doesn’t know which way to proceed.

Last week trustees welcomed members of the public as well as concerned staffers to a special informative meeting to further explain the situation that administrators are trying to sort out when it comes to how much they’ll receive in funding from the State of California – a number that has not yet been set in stone and could fluctuate before any final amount is cast in stone.

According to school board President Larry Stewart, the meeting served as a chance to inform those in the public who weren’t already aware of the difficulties that the district is now facing and also gave Superintendent Louise Nan a chance to show her expertise and calm demeanor in handling a scenario that could have dire consequences.

While he himself has almost two decades under his belt as a member of Ripon’s governing education board, Stewart didn’t pull any punches about the things that he’s anticipating seeing and how they stack up against the shortfalls and required cuts that have been handed down in the past.

“There’s really no comparison – this is by far the worst of anything that we’ve had to deal with,” Stewart said. “We’re still waiting to see how this is really going to affect us next year.

“At this point it’s pretty much a waiting game.”

Even before the fiscal crisis started nearing the point it’s at today, Nan organized a budget reduction committee that is currently in the process of identifying places in the district’s overall budget where cuts can be made without adversely affecting students or staff.

Their findings have not yet been publicly reported, although Nan has pointed out at previous meetings that after the round of cuts in the 2007-08 school year that there isn’t a whole lot of “fluff” left in terms of excessive positions or unnecessary programs – making the decision for the group even harder.

The Board of Education will next meet on Monday, Feb. 9, the Ripon High multipurpose room. For more information, or to obtain a copy of the agenda or previous meeting minutes, visit www.riponusd.net.

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