Buses to take athletes to competitions or students to summer school, graduation ceremonies at Hyundai Pavilion, summer school for elementary schoolers: Say good-bye to all of it.
The Hesperia Unified School District school board approved $4.2 million in budget cuts Monday, in an attempt to get the district's budget crisis under control.
The HUSD, like school districts around California, is in the midst of a budget crisis this year -- a byproduct of the state's financial train wreck.
Seventy-three percent of the school district's revenue comes from the state, in the form of Average Daily Attendance payments based on the number of students attending school. ADA payments have already been scaled back, and are likely to be further cut, as well as cuts in other state payments.
In December, HUSD officials estimated the district needed to cut $2 million from the budget for the 2008-2009 school year already underway, an additional $1.5 million for the 2009-2010 school year and then $2.5 million in cuts for the 2010-2011 school year. But that was when official estimates pegged California's budget shortfall at a mere $28 billion over 18 months, a figure that has since risen to an estimated $41.6 billion.
"I would love to stand here tonight and tell you this won't affect our staff," said Superintendent Mark McKinney. "But I can't do that."
In a 5-0 vote, the school board gave McKinney the green light to go ahead with the cuts he could make without the agreement of the two unions that represent the bulk of the HUSD's employees.
Among the cuts approved Monday:
The HUSD will take over special education services currently farmed out to the county. Providing the services in-house, instead of paying the county, will save the district $2.5 million, according to officials.
If, as expected, the state cuts Class Size Reduction payments -- funds used to subsidize teacher salaries to increase the number of teachers in certain grades, thereby lowering the ratio of teachers to students -- the HUSD could lay off up to 70 first, second and third grade teachers, for an estimated savings of $350,000. (Paying for the missing subsidies would cost the HUSD approximately $4 million.)
Transportation to athletic competitions will be cut in the coming school year, saving the district an estimated $300,000.
Elementary summer school will be cut, saving $67,000.
Transportation to summer school will be cut, saving $204,000.
Graduation ceremonies held at the Hyundai Pavilion in Devore will be replaced with ceremonies at local high schools instead, saving the district $23,000 annually.
"If we can find other places to cut, I'm all for it," school board member Hardy Black said, "But it looks like we're doing all we can."
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.