Members of the Hesperia Unified School District community, including parents and staff, have spoken, and what they're saying is to not cut busing for students going to or from school.

That stance is among the results of a survey available on the district's Web site through May 18.

"We had it up two weeks," said Superintendent Mark McKinney. "It was actually compiled through a parent advisory group we have ... looking at long-term budget issues. What is it that the community is willing to support to deal with the state budget crisis?"

California is facing an estimated $21.3 billion deficit. Average Daily Attendance payments from the state make up 73 percent of the HUSD's general operating fund, and Class Size Reduction funds pay most of the salaries for 76 elementary school teachers.

"With the propositions that, of course, went down in flames, it's back in the legislature's hands what they're going to do with [the state budget]," said McKinney. "It is definitely going to have a significant impact on education and on government and city services."

Survey-takers were asked about potential cuts to busing, elementary school teachers sharing assistant principals, reducing the elementary school music program, eliminating some or all of the elementary school teachers whose salaries are subsidized by the Class Size Reduction funds, charging for the use of district facilities, keeping students at in-school detention programs instead of sending them home and passing a new tax or bond to cover cuts in state funding to the HUSD.

"Some of it, quite honestly, is ... putting my foot in the water to get the temperature. None of us are happy with more taxes, none of us are happy with losing services," McKinney said.

Certainly those filling out the survey weren't.

Almost 67 percent of respondents disagreed or strongly disagreed (53 percent strongly disagreed) with the HUSD eliminating transportation for all grades, which would save the district an estimated $7 million. (Special education transportation, which is required by state law, would be unaffected.) The HUSD's annual budget, 80 percent of which pays for salaries and benefits, is approximately $160 million.

Almost as many respondents -- 59 percent -- disagreed or strongly disagreed with eliminating transportation for grades 7 through 12.

But a majority approved of getting families to chip in to help pay for transportation: 58 percent approved or strongly approved of charging $1 a trip or $2 a day for student busing. (Qualified low-income families would not be charged.) And a large majority supported charging fees for extra-curricular busing: Seventy-eight percent of respondents either approved or strongly approved of the idea.

"Transportation is one of those that, when it comes down to it, they keep cutting education and there will come a point when there's nothing left to cut," said McKinney. "Transportation in California, it's not mandated. But parents have come to expect it. And there's a catch 22: If I don't transport them, what's my ADA at? So there is a fine balance there."

Almost 56 percent of respondents agreed with having assistant principals float between two elementary schools, instead of each school having an assistant principal to call their own.

Reductions in the elementary school music program were strongly opposed: More than 70 percent of respondents disagreed with any reductions, and 50 percent of those surveyed strongly disagreed. But moving the program to after-school and charging a "minimal" fee was more warmly received: Sixty percent of respondents liked the idea.

Respondents also opposed cutting elementary school teachers. Seventy percent of those surveyed disagreed eliminating Class Size Reduction in grades 1 through 3, which would increase the allowed classroom ratio to 30 students per teacher. But if the state were to cut CSR funds, 60 percent of respondents would want first graders to get whatever CSR-funded teachers remained.

More than 81 percent of those responding approved of the HUSD charging a fee to any groups who use district facilities. Various groups use school facilities for religious services, sporting events and meeting spaces.

Almost 70 percent of respondents approved of the district expanding its in-school suspension program, which keeps students on campus (and thus qualifying the district for state ADA payments) instead of sending them home on suspension.

And finally, 53 percent of respondents disagreed with the HUSD passing a parcel tax or bond to cover cuts in state funding.

A total of 727 people filled out the survey. Almost 45 percent of them -- 325 people -- identified themselves as parents. Just over 14 percent -- 104 people -- identified themselves as members of the community. And 41 percent of respondents identified themselves as HUSD employees: 24.5 percent those surveyed identified themselves as teachers, 14.2 percent as non-teacher staff and 2.3 percent as administrative staff.

Respondents also had the chance to offer their own suggestions, and 299 of the 727 did so. A breakdown of their suggestions was not available at press time.

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