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Move to condense classes irks parents

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POSTED July 11, 2009 2:54 a.m.
RIPON – Class sizes may soon be a big issue when it comes to Ripon schools.

The move was made earlier this year to condense certain classes in order to compensate for the shortage of revenue stemming from California’s budget crisis. The plan included the involuntary transfer of some students to other schools.

While some view the move as a necessary evil, some parents soon found out that things weren’t going to be the same when the school year got underway.

When the Ripon Board of Education meets on Monday they’ll be hearing from Weston Elementary parent Kelly Bergman who had one of her two twins transferred to Ripon Elementary – stating in a letter to the board that he was supposedly the 29th student on the list when only 28 were available.

It wasn’t until she found out that the same class now has 31 students that Bergman became incensed – claiming that the district hasn’t followed its own mandatory transfer list that contains a stipulation that gives precedence for students that had siblings at a given site.

Superintendent Louise Nan outlined the process for the displacement of students in a letter to the board that was submitted in May. She noted that the closing five classrooms at the elementary level was going to lead to the transfer of approximately 120 students.

According to Nan’s report, the first students placed on the list were those on the existing transfer list, followed by those who voluntarily chose to attend another school. Students with siblings would still be included if the number needed to satisfy the closure wasn’t met. A random drawing would determine the remainder of the transfers.

The impacts have been significant with a fourth grade class closed at Ripon Elementary, a fifth grade class closed at Colony Oak, a sixth grade class closed at Weston, and a seventh grade class closed at Ripona. A planned second fourth grade class at Ripon Elementary was not added.

In Nan’s new report to the board, the issue of class sizes – which she outlines based on the grades that were impacted and how they affected the students – is noted to also be under the scope of collective bargaining with the Ripon Unified Teachers Association.

With Ripon Unified hosting an open enrollment policy, students are still able to transfer to any other school in the district so long as there is appropriate room. The board will also consider a request from administrators to be given flexibility in how to determine the capacity of students as outlined in the current regulation – something that they hope will mitigate the number of students affected by the transfer situation.
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