The Hesperia Unified School District faces six new layoffs next school year, after employees agreed to days off without pay to avoid deeper staffing cuts.

The district previously announced more than 50 teacher layoffs.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's office estimates the state is facing a $20 billion budget deficit. School districts count on much of that revenue and by law must prepare staffing plans based on budget projections for the coming fiscal year.

Across the state, that's meant planning for layoffs. The HUSD faces a $5.5 million budget shortfall, if the legislature goes ahead with a plan to only pay a portion of Average Daily Attendance funds, which make up 73 percent of the HUSD's general operation fund.

In March, the district outlined a total of 54 cuts in teaching positions for the 2008-2009 school year, 40 of them at elementary schools. That number has been reduced to 33 now.

"The teacher number has gone down for a lot of reasons," Cindy Fortin, Assistant Director of Personnel, said Friday. "Cypress Academy, when we did the resolution, was still a sixth grade school. Now it's a K-6 school."

The school has also attracted an additional 50 students to the HUSD, along with their expected ADA funds.

At Monday night's school board meeting, two other segments of the HUSD's workforce were spared the axe, for the most part, after they agreed to reduce their work year.

A total of 986 non-teacher staff (known in educational parlance as "classified" employees) will have their years reduced by one to three days.

There will still be layoffs, though, if the state's contribution to local school districts is as small as expected.

Five classified positions -- three from the district's print shop, and special education assistants at Sultana High School and Ranchero Middle School -- will also be eliminated.

On the management side, 59 managers will have three days cut from their schedule, and the district's intervention liaison officer, Michael Stewart, will be eliminated in the 2008-2009 school year.

This week, the Hesperia Teachers Association is polling members as to if they would accept a reduction of their work year, defer a previously agreed-upon raise, or freeze the annual raise most teachers get.

"The teachers that were placed on the layoff list by March 15 were placed there as a worst-case scenario," Fortin said.

The HTA vote is the first time members have gotten a chance to give input into how they want to deal with the expected budget deficit. The results of the union vote will not be known until next week.

The board approved the reduction of services for management and classified staff by a 3-1 vote. (Bruce Minton was absent for health reasons.) Board member Helen Rogers said the vote was premature.

"I know we have to make some cuts," Rogers said, "I know we do ... but we don't know what HTA is going to do."

"We have [education code] timelines," Superintendent Mark McKinney said. Classified staffing levels for the next school year have to be submitted to the state 45 days prior to the end of the school year, June 30.

The Hesperia Unified School District is the Victor Valley's largest employer. It is also the valley's largest school district, serving 21,207 students.

The next meeting of the Hesperia Unified School District school board will be held on May 19 at 6 p.m. The meeting will be held at Mission Crest Elementary School, 12850 Muscatel Street.

Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 956-7108 or at beau@hesperiastar.com.