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Ripon Unified’s financial woes delineated in district website post

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POSTED February 6, 2009 5:17 a.m.
RIPON – With a budget shortfall of almost $970,000 from last year, times are tight for the Ripon Unified School District.

And letting people know just how tight they are is exactly what Superintendent Louise Nan intends to do.

After holding a community meeting two weeks ago to inform concerned parents and residents about the impacts that the California budget crisis will have on education, Nan posted her PowerPoint presentation on the district’s web site to allow those who didn’t attend to have access to the same information.

“The state has not gotten their act together,” Nan wrote in the presentation. “The magnitude of the proposed cuts are unprecedented in my 25-year career.

“The impact on our schools is devastating.”

And much like former Superintendent Leo Zuber, Nan is focusing a large part of her attention on student enrollment – one of the main sources of income for school districts.

Prior to Zuber’s retirement he voiced his concern about the district’s declining enrollment and how the reduction in students would severely impact their budget – even going so far as to attempt to track the students that left the district and why they were no longer enrolled in Ripon.

According to Nan’s report, there are currently 65 approved interdistrict transfers out of Ripon Unified for a variety of reasons amounting to an overall loss of $376,370 in Average Daily Attendance (ADA) funding. Nan suggested that while interdistict transfer into the district are only allowed for employees, maybe the policy could be expanded to allow the children of any person employed in Ripon to be accepted as well – keeping with the concept of increasing student enrollment and attendance in order to increase revenue.

But the possibility of losing positions isn’t something that’s off the table.

In order to reduce expenditures, Nan says, reducing staff by attrition would be much more favorable than having to issue layoffs. Certificated teachers that will be laid off due to funding must be notified by March 15, and the seniority of those teachers leaving could have a big impact on how much money the district actually saves.

Eliminating five junior teaching positions, Nan wrote, will save only $273,174 – compared to the $476,728 that would be saved if they were senior positions.

And while cutting expenses will be the backbone of the district’s efforts to minimize the impacts from California’s fiscal crisis, there might also be other ways to generate revenue.

In addition to suggesting that the district possibly raise the cost of served meals by 25 cents – saving an additional $45,000 a year – Nan also brought up the point of a possible parcel tax of somewhere between $50 and $100 that would have to be approved by the voters in order to take effect. Legislation is currently in the works to possibly reduce the required margin for passing a parcel tax from two-thirds to 55 percent.

For more information on Nan’s presentation, or to contact the district, visit their web-site at www.riponusd.net, or call (209) 599-2131.
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