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Ripon schools facing budget cut of $1 million
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RIPON – Ripon’s Board of Education will have to look at how to cut more than $1 million out of their operating budget due to the state’s budget crisis.
Based on interpretation of the numbers coming from Sacramento, Ripon Unified is looking at a shortfall of $1,011,000 for the next school year – meaning that some hard decisions will likely befall those in administrative positions who have to decide what is crucial and what is expendable.
With a mandatory three percent reserve required by law, Ripon Unified now finds itself in a position similar to other larger districts in the area that are facing shortfalls that exceed $10 million – operating only one public high school and five elementary schools to serve the town of over 10,000 residents – and needing to decide which programs, services, or personnel might be sacrificed in order to come in below the required margin.
A wage freeze has been in place since former Superintendent Leo Zuber informed the board about the dire circumstances that lie ahead – exacerbated by declining enrollment – and recommended a series of cost-cutting measures that he felt might have diverted the financial hit that the district is now bracing for.
Zuber had originally proposed – prior to the hiring of Louise Nan as his replacement – that the board consider the release of all non special-ed classroom aides as well as two primary and two middle school teachers.
Being overstaffed at the primary levels and well within the student ratio of 30:1 at the middle schools, he said, made the layoffs as painless as possible for the district even though he would have liked to have not had to release anyone. That ended up happening prior to his retirement after more than a decade at the helm.
Since taking control of the district, Nan has monitored the rumblings coming from Sacramento and appears to be taking a wait-and-see approach to find out whether the $1,011,000 is the actual number they’ll be asked to do without – likely preparing a contingency plan to deal with the issue when it arises.
The Ripon Unified Board of Education will next meet on Jan. 12 inside of the multipurpose room at Ripon High School.