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Ripon Unified may cut funds for elementary school bands

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POSTED February 9, 2010 1:55 a.m.
RIPON - Striking out the band is going to hit a sour note with elementary school musicians in the next round of potential cuts for the Ripon Unified School District.

School district Superintendent Louise Nan said she has been advised the bottom line is to “be prepared” for the budget cuts in at least the next two fiscal years.  She said there is currently a negative cost of living adjustment (COLA) in addition to two more state cuts plus $200,000 in stimulus cuts.

In the next school year of 2010-2011, the state is expected to cut an additional $875,810 – a shortfall that the school district must attempt to engineer into its budget.  

Roger Valdez, representing the district’s budget advisory committee, presented the board Monday night with a list of possible cuts the 15-member group is recommending.  The list of 15 categories would provide $880,393 in budget reductions.  The elimination of the band amounts to $88,700 and cutting the band stipend would bring another $1,675.

In his presentation to the board, Valdez invited community members to attend a 7 p.m. budget advisory meeting next Tuesday where citizens may offer input into the funding quandary and its limited income – short of meeting the needs of Ripon students.  The session is scheduled to be held in the high school multi-purpose room, he said.  The committee hopes that members of the public will attend and help dissect the suggested cuts in the proposed budget.

Valdez said his committee focused mainly on saving teachers’ jobs and not wanting to displace students to other schools. He noted that the suggested cuts don’t necessarily guarantee those teaching positions in the future.

“The State of California is always adjusting its budget from month to month,” he said.  “It could be a plus or a minus.  We are also waiting for the outcome of the district employee’s union negotiations.”

The budget advisory committee spokesman added that if the state budget and the employee’s negotiations are favorable to the Ripon School District budget, some of the proposed cuts could be taken off the table.

A suspension of ordering new text books alone would save $163,000 in the budget.  Dropping extra duty stipends would represent a savings of over $126,000. Reducing substitute teacher pay would cut $6,300, and increasing bus transportation by $1 a day for students amounts to $41,000 for the income side of the ledger.

Two night custodians might also be dropped from the payroll saving nearly $92,000. Increasing school lunches by a quarter reflects a $25,000 additional income.  The committee also suggested the elimination of the teacher job share overlapping to save another $32,000. Currently the job share contracts in the primary grades overlap each other by one percent.

Also the elimination of the activity director’s prep period would equate to a $10,324 savings and reduction of the Ag Prep negates almost $40,000.  Dropping off a number of underutilized class sections will bring a savings of $139,000 – classes with low student interest.

The committee also red-penciled travel and conference costs as well as two K-3 overflow classes for a difference of $52,000. Those primary classes are expected to push their capacity of students.  The reduction of school library hours promises nearly $64,000 in savings. 
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