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Ripon trying to save with retirement incentives

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POSTED March 10, 2009 4:53 a.m.
RIPON – It looks like attrition might be one way that Ripon Unified brass might be able to dodge the cleaver that could spell the end for some teachers and staffers due to budget shortfalls.

The Ripon Unified Board of Education voted unanimously Monday night to move forward with two separate agenda items that will offer incentives to teachers nearing retirement to call it quits at the end of the year – allowing the district to save money in advanced salaries and benefits.

And with the flexibility that the move offers, certain class sizes will likely be able to be either increased or even possibly combined into split grades so that the district can save even more money – hoping to clear a deficit that Superintendent Louise Nan estimates could top $3 million over the course of the next three school years.

While the number of teachers that have put in their retirement paperwork has not yet been announced, speculation from some in the district has the total ranging anywhere from five teachers all the way up to 13 – which, if the latter is true, means that the district could save the better part of $1 million in salaries if those positions were never to be replaced.

Ever since the budget crisis first started emerging as a clear threat to the finances of the district, Nan has been working with staff and the board of education to do everything possible to ensure that there won’t be a legitimate crisis emerging – something that was solidified several weeks ago when the San Joaquin County Office of Education gave their blessing to Ripon’s financial outlook over the course of the next three years.

While the reserves the district currently has on tap are shrinking, they’re still able to meet their financial requirements for staff payment and all other billable services for at least the next three years.

It’ll now be up to the recently formed budget review committee to take the necessary steps to ensure Ripon’s financial future.

Just last month the board voted to increase the school lunch fees so that the cafeteria is no longer operating at a loss, and strides are being made to minimize the expenditures on everything from conferences to routine administrative trips.

Nan hopes that the moves will be enough to prevent any more layoffs and any additional cutbacks to the instruction currently being offered to students.

The mater will likely again be before the Ripon Unified Board of Education during their next meeting as they get even closer to the May deadline where they’ll have to decide which teachers or staff will not be returning for the next school year.
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