The state of California's budget crisis hangs over California's public schools like the sword of Damocles, affecting even events as simple as the Hesperia Unified School District's annual Scholastic Books Sale.


For the sixth year in a row, the HUSD sold books from Scholastic for half-off at Hesperia High School. And while residents still lined up for bargain books, educators were missing, and the sale raised a fraction of the scholarship money that it has in recent years.


"Last year, before we even opened the doors, we had about $22,000 in purchase orders," said Deb Baker, assistant to the superintendent and the woman who organized the event in conjunction with the Parent Coordinating Council. "We wound up with final sales of about $35,000."


This year, the district only rung up approximately $6,700 in sales.


"We had a good turn-out; we had a steady flow all day long," Baker said. "But in years past, when we opened the doors, we had a line that went clear around the building."


The Hesperia library came by to buy books, but purchase orders from schools in the HUSD and in other district -- the sale is advertised throughout schools in San Bernardino and Riverside counties -- were missing this time around.


"We had a good response, but purchase orders are usually a couple grand," Baker said. "Since all the school districts have their monies frozen, we just didn't have that money coming in."


California's budget deficit is estimated to reach $41.6 billion over the next 18 months, and school districts around the state are making deep cuts in advance of the 2009-2010 school year.


"It wasn't discouraging in that people didn't show up. They showed up; they just didn't have money."


Scholastic Books gives a tenth of the sales revenue to the Parent Coordinating Council for graduating seniors. This year, the sale only raised $670 for scholarships.


"We have a little bit of carryover from last year, so I think we'll do the same amount as last year," Baker said. "We'll just find some other way to bolster the accounts."


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