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Johnson: Ripon may need to market schools

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POSTED March 13, 2013 1:08 a.m.

No doubt that declining enrollment is an issue at Ripon Unified.

For example, the second interim report for this year factored in “down 57 enrolled students from the prior year,” according to the California Basic Educational Data System numbers taken last October

This translated into the Average Daily Attendance – or ADA, the state’s generating revenue formula that divide the number of days of student attendance by the number of days of school taught during the same period – anticipated at minus-$267,880 for next school year, and minus-$336,618 for the 2014-15 school year.

“The decline in numbers calls for (our budget advisory committee) to come back and identify some cuts,” Superintendent Louise Johnson said at Monday’s school board meeting.

For years, RUSD was the envy of the area based on the high scores posted in the state Standardized Testing and Reporting results.

“We’re no longer a monopoly,” said Johnson, who, at last month’s meeting, listed families moving out of the area coupled with home foreclosures and students dropping out at the high school among some of the reasons for the declining numbers.

She added: “As a business, we need to find ways to better market ourselves.”

Johnson used Escalon Unified as an example.

“Escalon was able to stop the declining enrollment after establishing the Escalon Charter Academy,” she noted.

Coming soon to RUSD is the Ripon Continuation High School. The board approved the application – Johnson said the state Department of Education just received it and in the process of reviewing it – with all indications pointing to a 2013-14 school year start up.

 Staff will consist of one full-time teacher and a full-time teaching principal. “We’ve never had a teacher who also served as the principal (at RUSD),” Johnson said.

The teacher-to-student ratio could be adjusted if the initial enrollment at the proposed continuation site exceeds 19 students.

The board, for now, held off on the hiring of the teaching staff until the next meeting.

“Our goal is to open the continuation school for next year,” Johnson said. “This is one way of addressing our declining enrollment.”

Trustee Kit Oase, meanwhile, noticed that Colony Oak School had fewer than 46 students from the previous month – the figures were based on the seventh month attendance enrollment report – while Ripona was down 27 during that same period.

Overall, RUSD tallied 2,985 students, which was down 79 as compared to 2011-12 school year enrollment figures.

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