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Ripon Elementary gets black eye just to make new state law work
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RIPON — Earlier this year, Ripon Elementary School was among the elite.

The kindergarten- through eighth-grade campus earned praises as a 2010 Distinguished School, honoring the most exemplary and inspiring public schools.

Schools under this program of the state Department of Education are recognized for demonstrating significant gains in narrowing the achievement gap.

Ripon Elementary recently made another list: The state’s 1,000 low-achieving schools under the Open Enrollment Act or the Romero Bill, which was enacted into law during a special session over the summer.

District officials are stunned.

Superintendent Louise Nan said last week that Ripon Elementary doesn’t belong here for obvious reasons.

For starters, the school, in recent years, has consistently exceeded the state’s “800” target in the Academic Performance Index of the Standardized Testing And Reporting.

The STAR scores were part of the complicated formula used by the state in determining the schools placed on the Romero Bill list.

RUSD has an overall API of over 800, with Ripon Elementary at 819, Weston at 827, Ripona at 841, and Colony Oak at 882.

Those numbers have some significance under the Romero Bill.

It gives parents with students at Ripon Elementary the green light to transfer their youngster to a higher achieving school in the district or elsewhere.

Superintendent Louise Nan is concerned about the latter.
“Parents could request a transfer for a student to attend a school outside of the district,” she said.

Given the tough economic climate in education, RUSD can’t afford to take any sort of loss in attendance.

The district’s current enrollment is slightly over 3,000. Those physical numbers contribute to the Average Daily Attendance, which is reported to the state three times during the year.

The district’s revenue-limit funding is based on ADA.

Loss in enrollment would mean a decrease in ADA and revenue limit funding.

 Nan added, “We already have an open enrollment policy.”

RUSD allows for students with a choice to attend any of its K-8 campuses based on available space.

As for the Romero Act, Nan noted that numbers were disproportioned, pointing out to the part in which no district can have more than 10 percent of its schools on the list.

According to Nan, some of the larger districts such as Los Angeles County had only 5.9 percent of its schools on the list.

That pales in comparison to Lake and Tulare counties, both smaller school districts in rural areas, with a whopping 35 percent.

San Joaquin County had 13 percent.

Enter AB 47 introduced on Dec. 6 by state Assemblyman Jared Huffman.

“This would clean up (the Romero Bill) and get schools that scored ‘800’ on the API off the list,” Nan said.

Eleven schools achieving the target score were on the 2010-11 list, with 31 schools, including Ripon Elementary, having API scores of 800 or higher placed on the 2011-12 version.

Nan has already sent a waiver request in time for the Jan. 12 meeting of state board of education to have Ripon Elementary removed from the list.

She’s hoping to have better news on the matter at a future school board meeting.

The next RUSD session is Jan. 10.