Twenty-five of the 76 teachers who were to be brought back in an agreement between the Hesperia Unified School district and teachers union, after receiving pink slips this spring, are coming back anyway.


The HUSD school board approved the un-cutting of 25 kindergarten, first, second and third grade teachers, when they voted to approve the budget for the 2009-2010 school year at Monday's school board meeting.


"We're bringing back 25 [teachers] on the basis of going ahead and implementing the [Class Size Reduction] program," Assistant Superintendent of Business Services David McLaughlin said Thursday.


The state's CSR program greatly subsidizes additional teachers in order to lower the ratio of teachers to students in public school classrooms. The program was thought to be a likely target for legislative cuts, as the state attempts to wrestle its budgetary problems into submission, but CSR funds are coming, said McLaughlin.


California's budget crisis has hit public school districts hard, as Average Daily Attendance funds (paid based on the average number of students attending each school) make up the lion's share of non-restricted funds available to school districts. ADA funds make up 73 percent of the HUSD's general operation fund, which pays for employee salaries and benefits. State legislators voted this week to cut $5.5 billion in education spending, but promised future payments instead.


This spring, the HUSD school board voted to lay off 27 non-teacher staff, 183 teachers and 17 principals and district office managers at the end of the school year. (Twelve of those principals are assistant principals the board later voted to reinstate.)


This is the second time these teachers have been given their jobs back. At a special meeting on May 1, the board and teachers union agreed to bring back 76 teachers, with the union agreeing to a six-month freeze of automatic pay hikes as part of the deal. But the deal is in a holding pattern, because it required no further limits to revenue from the state be placed on the district - something that school officials won't know is happening, or not, for some weeks.


"There is a tentative agreement that would have brought back teachers, which we have not been able to implement yet, because of the state budget problem," McLaughlin said. "In the meantime, we're going ahead and bringing back the CSR people we know we can bring back, independent of the revenue [issues]."


Which schools the CSR-funded teachers will go to is not decided yet.


The district estimates kindergarten through third grade classrooms in the HUSD will have an average of 30.25 students for every teacher in 2009-2010, with CSR teachers back on the job. At higher grade levels, McLaughlin said, "we're not really sure yet" what the ratio will be.


Part of the problem is that the district does not know how many students will show up when the new school year begins. Enrollment has been declining at many schools, but often at slower rates than expected. And although more teachers can be hired after the school year begins, legally, they can't be laid off, even if the student body turns out to be much smaller than anticipated. That would leave the HUSD holding the bag for teacher salaries and benefits that wouldn't have state ADA payments to help pay for them.


"That's why we're being so cautious about not bringing back [more] teachers," McLaughlin said. "Would I love to? Yeah. But we can't afford to."


But based on enrollment projections, seven more teachers could be returning to work shortly after the school bells begin to ring again on August 10.


The next meeting of the HUSD school board will be held on July 13 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.