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Dozen Ripon teachers losing their jobs
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RIPON — Twelve Ripon Unified teachers have been notified of permanent layoffs this week because of the state’s economic woes in supporting education.

School Superintendent Louise Nan said she is going to be at the governor’s budget revision session today in Sacramento hoping for some good news rather than the continuing lack of funds for the Ripon district.  The state is now claiming an additional $20 billion shortfall.

“We have no clear direction from the State of California regarding our funding for the 2010-2011 fiscal year,” she said.

The Ripon trustees’ resolution to cut positions is the “worst case scenario,” the superintendent said, “including moving out of K-3 class size reduction completely.”  

Nan said the district has not been willing to eliminate the class size reduction as yet because it is a high priority to keep those classes as small as possible.  

She said she hopes to be able to rescind some of the layoff notices through the summer as more funding information becomes available.  The final budget will be adopted by June 30.

Cuts other than personnel that were recommended through the Budget Advisory Committee initially addressed the proposed budget shortfall of nearly $600,000.

Their recommended increase for bus transportation to a $1 for students made a difference of $41,000 in savings.

School lunch prices upped by 25 cents put another $25,000 into the general fund.  The decision against having new text books amounted to another $100,000 and the elimination of underutilized high school class sections was responsible for a $169,900 in savings.

Another $10,000 was realized in the suspension of travel and conference funding.  Reduction of the high school’s activity director prep time saved another $10,324.  Elimination of a band teacher stipend reduced the budget red ink by $1,675.

Also, the elimination of two K-3 overflow classes at Parkview Elementary School cuts another $41,631.  Reduction of substitute teacher pay is projected to save the district $6,365.  Reducing the library to four hours saves another $63,524 as well as the reduction of one agricultural project saves some $19,000.

A cut to half of the funding for the elementary band is also helping the district’s budget shortage by $44,350.  The elimination of one night custodial position lops off nearly $46,000.

School trustees this week were also faced with some 25 to 30 incoming freshmen asking to transfer out of the district rather than attend Ripon High School.  The majority of them were reportedly planning on attending Modesto High School and its highly lauded Intramural Baccalaureate (IB) program.

School board president Larry Stewart said he was saddened to see the loss of students saying the district needs every one they can get for budgetary support from the community.  He said he hopes to see the high school develop an IB program of its own in the future.

Trustees also debated the question of continuing to allow approved unexcused absences in the district that cost RUSD nearly $84,000 last year.  There were a total of 2,227 days of unexcused student absences included in the 2009-2010 school year – 934 pre-approved days.

To date the district has been impacted at the various schools with unexcused approved unexcused absences: Ripon High School had 220 for the year and Ripon Elementary School had 165.  Weston had 123 and Colony Oak 237.  Park View logged 146 and Ripona Elementary only 43 absences.

The daily revenue limit for a student day of attendance this year is $27.53.

In other business Stephanie Hobbs, president of the Ripon Community Athletic Foundation, presented a donation in the form of a $30,000 check to be used for architectural fees to get the Ripon High athletic stadium project to a shovel-ready position.