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Does new RUSD math add up?

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POSTED June 15, 2010 2:47 a.m.
RIPON - A dip in math scores in certain categorical areas was outlined to Ripon Unified School District trustees Monday night, however administrators were reluctant to say that the drop at certain school sites had anything to do with the switch in math curriculum.

Superintendent Louise Nan said it would be unfair to finger the new Envision math series as problematic since the overall test scores for Ripon students were up over past years in the recent annual testing.

School administrator Kathy Coleman said the district was “missing the mark” in the categorical areas and she followed up saying results were only down slightly.  Those categorical areas include Special Education and English learners.

School board president Larry Stewart asked Coleman if she thought the dip in scores had anything to do with the switch from Saxon to the new Envision math series.

“That’s some of it,” she said, but she was quick to note that some dips are normal early on with a new program – a program that saw resistance from some parents and teachers.

The Public School Accountability Act of 1998 requires the reporting of the scores to the school board as their regularly scheduled meeting.  Each year the California Department of Education publishes two forms of the California Academic Performance Index.

The growth report is published in the fall and measures whether or not California schools and districts have met their growth targets.  The base report is published in the spring and measures the statewide ranking and similar schools ranking for each school as well as setting the growth targets for the testing that was just accomplished.

District Superintendent Louise Nan noted that these scores are relative to the 2009 test and not to the recent 2010 testing that was just completed.

In other business, trustees gave the superintendent to proceed with the prospect of using a paperless Agenda-On-Line system that would provide the members of the public with greater access to school board agenda items saving the costs associated with paper board packets and the staff time used in preparing them.

A resolution was passed by the board to establish temporary interfund transfers as they may be needed “to borrow from ourselves” in the case of cash flow shortages.

“This routine annual resolution has drastically increased in importance as the State of California continues to balance its budget by imposing deferrals of school district apportionments within and across fiscal year,” the school district superintendent noted.

Nan said she hopes never having to borrow the money from other categorical funds, but added she would rather do that and pay it back than having to borrow from the County Office of Education where the district would have to pay back interest as well.

The one fund that could be targeted for a loan would be the cafeteria fund that would be paid back when money was eventually received from the state.  Trustee Mike Fisher said he would rather that not happen due to recent increases in student lunch prices causing it to appear that the district is using the student body to help in its funding shortfalls.

Student trustee Michele Ambrose objected as well saying the district would be doing the same thing the state has been doing in borrowing from the districts with a promise to pay the money back at a later date.

Nan said, “It’s like not getting a pay check (from the state) but still having to pay the bills and then paying ourselves back.”

In yet another matter the board voted to set the date of November 2 for the elections of three trustees to its governing board.  With it being on the same day as the general election it is saving the district considerable costs, it was pointed out.

The seats up for election are now held by Donna Parks, Larry Stewart and Ernest Tyhurst.  The other two board members are Mike Fisher and Jack DeLiddo.

The trustees also gave the go ahead to launching a new JROTC program in Military Drill next year.  It will be taught by Sgt. Butch Perry in zero period at no additional cost to the district.

The proposed Level III outline of the course as well as a copy of the textbook had been presented to the board outlining the procedures the course is to entail.

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