The cuts made at Monday's school board meeting do not close the Hesperia Unified School District's budget gap, just narrow it, leaving a projected $2.9 million deficit for the 2009-2010 school year. And this week's cuts were the easy part.


More than 80 percent of the HUSD's $160 million budget is salary and benefits and cutting back on employee hours or freezing the annual pay increases guaranteed by contract will mean winning the approval of the unions.


Teachers make up 60 percent of the district's employees, non-teacher, non-management staff ("classified" employees) make up 28 percent of the district's employees and management make up 12 percent. McKinney can only act unilaterally in the case of management employee salaries and schedules, as both of the other two groups have contracts negotiated by union representatives.


McKinney won't have much time to enlist their support: By state law, teachers must be notified by mid-March if their services will not be needed for the 2009-2010 school year. If he cannot make up the budget shortfall with their cooperation, teacher layoffs will have to be made at that point.


Classified employees only have to have 45 days notice of impending layoffs, and if the budget picture worsens considerably over the summer, they could theoretically take a bigger cut than teachers do in March.


The next meeting of the Hesperia Unified School District school board will be held on Monday, January 12, at 6 p.m. in the HUSD Administration and Support Center at 15576 Main Street.


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