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Parents willing to pull together to meet Ripons $875K shortfall
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Ripon schools chief Louise Nan displays a Manteca Bulletin article explaining the state’s repetitive budget cuts aimed at education. - photo by GLENN KAHL
RIPON  — A feared budget shortfall of $875,000 in Ripon Unified School District’s budget brought parents together in the high school multipurpose room Tuesday night voicing their willingness to work as a group to overcome the shortage.

A major concern is that the budgetary inflow from the state coffers may continue to be cut even further over the next three years.

Fears over the predicted elimination of the coaching stipends along with other programs such as JROTC, school bands, sixth grade science camp and a stipend for a special education teacher were cohesive elements in bringing the parents together much on the same page eager to do anything to make a difference.

District Superintendent Louise Nan conducted the nearly two-hour question and answer session where she was giving parents the opportunity to be part of the budget study that had already been put together by a citizens committee of some 15 members.

School district President Larry Stewart told the crowd of some 200, “We’ve been put in a position where we have to make cuts.  These are really difficult times and we need your support.”

Continuing, he said, “It’s interesting, we’ve got some of the best (educational) departments in the state with the best in teachers and leadership, but it’s the parents who really make it all work.”

Stewart said there are really no answers for the sagging budget with the state continuing to take funds away from the Ripon district.

The fact is the state can’t handle it – they don’t know how far they are in debt,” Stewart said.

 “It has to come around – we all have to work together – we’re here to serve the kids and it’s going to mean personal sacrifices,” added Stewart.

Stewart said the way things look now, in three years of continued cuts the school district will be flat broke as it runs down it reserves.  When those reserves drop below three percent – required by state law – the state will take over operation of the school district.

Superintendent Louise Nan agreed saying that if the state comes in and takes over, making their own cuts, the school board will have no authority to act.  It has happened in other school districts around the state and that is “the consequence” in not having a budget that maintains the required reserves in its operation.

Stewart stressed that education is as much outside the classroom as it is inside the buildings.  

 “You give up band, you give up sports, you give up JROTC, you give up Ag – what are they going to school for, just to listen to someone lecture?”  Stewart said students must have socialization in their education experience where they gain character through those extracurricular activities.

School Trustee Ernie Tyhurst offered his own outlook on the state cuts that have brought the Ripon district to its knees.

“I break it down to collection and distribution issues,” he said.

“Right now the money is all generated at the local level in property tax and sent up to the state.  By the time it filters back down to the local level again there is not much left,” he said.

If the process were  reversed and the local tax payers got first claim to that tax money and sent what they didn’t need up to the state – wouldn’t that be a better solution – just how effectively could they run their state programs, he asked.

“I think they would be suffering the same agony the locals are going through right now,” he said.  “Using the money locally is where the most good is done.”