Sacramento's budget woes may translate into more Hesperia students walking to school.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger issued a revision to his proposed 2008-2009 budget on Wednesday, May 14, and assumes a $15.2 billion budget deficit -- a number some observers still think is too conservative.

The January budget proposal included deep cuts in education funds, which has caused a domino effect of teacher and staff layoffs in school districts across the state.

The governor's new May revision restores $1.8 billion to Proposition 98 funding -- which had been intended as a guaranteed and growing source of education revenue for school districts -- but also outlines $3 billion more in education cuts. Among the proposed cuts are eliminating the 2008-2009 Cost of Living Adjustment for school districts (which was to be a 5.66 percent increase), and 6.5 percent cuts to class size reduction funding (which helps pay for additional elementary school teachers), school books, school bussing and various vocational education programs.

"We're still not out of the woods," George Landon, Assistant Superintendent of Business Services for the Hesperia Unified School District, said Friday. "They call it the May revise for a reason. It's a revision to the governor's budget back in January. It's the governor's revision. There's still no signed budget. They'll wait to see what April's taxes bring, and the state cost of living rate is calculated, and a bunch of other variables."

The HUSD must adopt a budget by July 1, but how much money it's actually getting from the state won't likely be known for months.

"Until we see a signed budget that the legislators and governor can agree on, we really don't know about our spending for next year," Landon said. "I'm expecting we won't see a budget until September or October."

And that means hoping for the best, but planning for the worst.

"What we've done is still in place, until we know more information."

The first impact of the governor's proposed cuts will be felt by the HUSD's seventh through 12th graders, more of whom will be walking or driving to school next year.

The maximum walking distance for older students will be increased by half a mile, up to 2.5 miles for seventh and eighth graders and 3.5 miles for ninth through 12th graders.

The governor has also restored the planned cuts in Average Daily Attendance revenue paid to districts based on how many students attend school on average. In theory, this should mean the 33 teachers being laid off don't need to be.

"We have to build certain budget assumptions into our budget," Landon said. With the possibility of trimming ADA payments on the table, the HUSD and other districts aren't taking chances and employing a staff they may not be able to afford, come the state budget's eventual passage. "Unfortunately, when nearly 80 percent of our budget is people ... yeah, you can do some other adjustments, but it doesn't add up to [the cost of] people."

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