Four days after choosing not to vote on an agreement that could bring back 76 teachers laid off earlier this year, the Hesperia Unified School District school board reversed direction Friday, holding a special meeting to approve the agreement.

At Monday night's meeting of the Hesperia Unified School District school board, the board decided to delay voting on the tentative agreement between the district and the Hesperia Teachers Association teachers union that would bring back 76 elementary school teachers who had received pink slips earlier this year.

The teachers were among the 181 whom the board voted on February 23 to lay off in the 2009-2010 school year. But the salaries of these 76 were largely subsidized with Class Size Reduction funds from the state. When the board made the decision, it was expected CSR funds would be slashed. But the funds survived, and on April 10, the HUSD and HTA negotiated bringing back those teachers, covering the district's costs with a six-month freeze of automatic pay hikes for teachers, saving the district an estimated $1.2 million.

Approximately 90 percent of teachers voted in favor of the agreement, according to HTA president Jim Pace.

But three of the five board members at Monday's board meeting wanted to hold off on approving the agreement, citing concerns over the results of the May 19 election.

During the election, voters will vote on a series of propositions that, among other things, would extend the lifetime of a sales tax hike. The month will also see a revised budget released by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, with a subsequent recalculation of how much money the state distributes to local school districts.

(Average Daily Attendance payments, which are paid to school districts based on attendance, make up 73 percent of the HUSD's general operation fund, which pays for employee salaries and benefits.)

"I feel this is an urgent topic: There are 76 teachers whose jobs will be saved if you vote for this agreement," said Pace, the lone member of the public to address the board Friday morning. "I feel this is a good agreement for both sides."

Friday morning, shortly after 9 a.m., board member Robert Kirk moved to approve agreement, after previously leading the charge to table the agreement four days earlier.

"I appreciate [HTA vice president] Mr. Gordon Williamson and Mr. Pace getting together and working on some clarification of this agreement. It definitely helped me," said Kirk. "So that's the reason I want to move this forward."

"We do not want to commit the district to something it cannot afford," said board member Hardy Black, one of the three who voted to table the tentative agreement on Monday, along with board member Anthony Riley. Black, Kirk and Riley, along with board vice-president Lee Rogers, had all been supported by the HTA during their campaigns for office.

This time around, the board approved the agreement 4-0. (Board member Chris Bentley left the meeting early to take his children to school. He and Rogers had voted against tabling the tentative agreement at Monday's board meeting.)

If Class Size Reduction money does not remain intact, or further limits are put on the district's revenue by the state, the HUSD and HTA will go back to the negotiating table, according to the terms of the tentative agreement. The 76 elementary school teachers will not be offered their jobs back until after the May 19 election.

The next meeting of the HUSD school board will be held on Monday, May 4, at 6 p.m. in the HUSD Educational Support Center Annex, 15576 Main Street. Closed session begins at 2 p.m.

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