Faced with budget cuts, the Hesperia Unified School District school board voted Monday night to cut 27 non-teacher positions for the next school year.

But three high school career center clerks and specialists, at Hesperia High School, Mojave High School and Sultana High School had their jobs saved at the last minute.

"These are penny-wise and pound-foolish cuts here," said board member Robert Kirk, "Because I see the good these positions do."

The motion to cut the non-teacher (or "classified") positions for the 2009-2010 school passed 4-1, with only board member Chris Bentley dissenting.

"I certainly respect the work of the career center, but I respect the work of the other positions being cut as well," he said.

The other position cuts included the following:

* 3 district office secretaries, including a receptionist
* 3 high school health clerks
* 5 computer learning assistants or specialists
* 6 clerk-typists
* 10 elementary school proctors

In addition, 51 vacant classified positions will remain unfilled.

Two Maple Elementary School employees -- a library media specialist and parent community liaison -- will keep their jobs, but have their hours reduced.

The board made the cuts in response to a state revenue budget crisis.

The California state budget passed in February included $7.4 billion in cuts for schools and community colleges this year, and an additional $3.2 billion next year. Last year, 70 percent of the HUSD's $160 million budget came from state revenues. Layoffs were all but inevitable as a result: More than 80 percent of the unrestricted portion of the HUSD's budget is salary and benefits.

At their February 23 meeting, the board voted to lay off up to 181 teachers. State law requires teachers be notified by March 15 if their services will not be required in the coming school year. Seventeen principals and district office management positions were also cut, and the hours reduced for 107 managers and counselors.

The board had a limited window in which to vote on the classified cuts as well: By law, they must notify classified employees that their services will not be needed in the 2009-2010 school year 45 days before the new school year officially starts for employees on July 1.

The impact of the career center jobs may snowball in the future: For the first time, the HUSD is using a staffing model that strictly defines how many classified employees work at each site, based on enrollment. Keeping the additional staff at Hesperia, Mojave and Sultana may mean additional hires are required for Canyon Ridge and Oak Hills High Schools in the future, warned Assistant Superintendent of Business Services David McLaughlin.

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.

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