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Ripon Unified saves three jobs in budget
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RIPON – Several positions were spared from the 2011-12 school year budget adopted Monday by the Ripon Unified school board.

Included were one full-time position each of a high school counselor, elementary school teacher and agriculture instructor.

Federal money and, in the case of the ag instructor, donations helped save those positions, according to Superintendent Louise (Nan) Johnson at the special session held in the district office conference room.

“The donations we received (as a gift) from the ag community helped pay at least half the salary for the ag teacher,” board clerk Kit Oast said.

At Ripon High, he noted that about 25 percent of the students there are involved in the ag program, thus, making that third instructor necessary.

That’s the same percentage of students taking part in the music program, according to Oast, where a band instructor position was also spared.

 In addition, teachers involved in extracurricular activities or as elementary school coaches can expect to see their stipends restored up to 80 percent.

With the June 30 deadline looming, the school board adopted a projected budget of $19.5 million, with $12.4 million earmarked for salaries, $3.6 million covering benefits, and $2.2 million listed under services and other operating expenses.

And with a projected ending fund balance at $5.6 million – couple that with 3 percent tucked away in reserves, Trustee Donna Parks added – the district claimed a positive state certification for its budgeting.

“By that, we’ve showed that we’re fiscally solvent for three more years,” Oast said.

Earlier, the board agreed to utilize fiscal flexibility by transferring state categorical funds to the general funds, as specified under the School Budget Act for Tier III categorical programs. This money could only be used for educational purposes.

District officials indicated that the revenues and expenditures for 2011-12 were based on the budget guidelines as provided by the San Joaquin County Office of Education and the School Services of California Financial Projection Dartboard.

Trustees are taking a wait-and-see approach based on the latest news from Sacramento on the state budget.

“We’ve done the math and we will continue to make adjustments throughout the upcoming school year,” said Oast.

Johnson also noted that the district must also keep close tabs on the cash flow.

“We will need to keep our ending balancing sufficient in order to meet payroll,” she said.

RUSD made some tough cuts, including doing away with class size reduction affecting kindergarten- through third- grade students while raising the number of students in those classes.

“I’m hoping there’s a way we can move some of them around in order to lower the number of students per classroom,” Trustee Ernie Tyhurst said.