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122 students may switch to different school as part of budget cuts

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POSTED April 14, 2009 4:53 a.m.
RIPON – As many as 122 Ripon Unified students between fourth and seventh grades might end up finding themselves at another school next year.
When faced with four options for the proposed classroom realignment for the 2009-10 school year, the Board of Education voted 3-1 to approve a scenario that will transfer a seventh grade classroom at Ripona Elementary to Park View Elementary in order to allow team teaching and math grouping for seventh graders at the site.
Trustee Donna Parks was the lone dissenting vote, while Jack DeLiddo was absent from Monday’s meeting.
After discussing the options on the table with district administrators, the board decided to forge ahead with a decision rather than table it for a period of time because of the time-sensitive nature of the proposal as it will affect the hiring of teachers for next school year and determine which teachers will be transferred to other sites throughout the district as well.
On top of moving the seventh grade class, the option selected by the district will not add an additional fourth grade class to Park View Elementary and reduces one classroom at each of the other sites – transferring 11 fourth graders from Ripon Elementary, 13 fourth graders from Park View, 22 fifth graders from Colony Oak, and 27 sixth graders from Weston to other schools in the district that have yet to be determined.
Superintendent Louise Nan reminded the board and those in attendance that there were two things that Ripon Unified did not consider that almost every other school district in the area has in terms of the budget – laying off a massive amount of employees to close the deficit or close a school to achieve the same goal. The retirement of five teachers that will not be replaced combined with the student transfers will help the district moves toward its financial goals.
While some parents in attendance made a plea for the board to hold off on their decision to allow for public input on the option – especially after a situation where six students from Weston Elementary were going to be transferred last year ignited parents during a special board meeting and eventually led to the students not being moved – the weight of what was on the line with the decision appeared to override their desire to get additional input.
“It is a monumental task that we’re trying to achieve here, and we’re running out of time,” Ripon Elementary Principal Mike Larson said. “And as administrators, there aren’t a lot of us to get that done.”
By Wednesday the district will have a copy of the four plans that were presented and their impacts along with an explanation of why they selected the options that they did – a stipulation that Trustee Ernie Tyhurst added to Mike Fisher’s initial motion after Tyhurst himself initially said that he’d like to hear more from the parents and the public and take more time himself to review the information that the board only received on Friday.
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