On Tuesday morning, the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors approved a package of road improvements, among them road improvements on several unpaved roads near Oak Hills High School. In a press release issued the Friday before, the county announced that the county will be contributed to $800,000 and the Hesperia Unified School District would contribute $650,000 to pave El Centro Street and Coyote Trail.

That was good news for neighbors who had complained about dust generated by traffic going to and from the school, for students in the neighborhood who walked to class and those driving to the school who either had to travel a single congested paved road in, or brave unmaintained dirt roads.

Except the HUSD, like public school districts across the state, gets almost all of its funding from the state and with California facing another $7.4 billion budget next year, will have to find a way to tighten its belt further after already going through several rounds of budget cuts in the past year. The county has also been hit financially by the recession and especially the near-standstill in new construction.

"I know what the county is contributing," David Zook, spokesman for Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt, said Friday. "We are attempting to meet with them next week to discuss the specifics of the funding. ... I have been told on more than one occasion that the money is available and left over from the construction project."

And that's apparently true, but not the whole story: The "left over" $650 thousand was intended for all the final touches of construction on the school, which opened in August.

"I think there's no doubt that there was some miscommunication," said school board member Robert Kirk. "Here we've got a money shortage butting up against student safety."

"While we appreciate Supervisor Mitzelfelt's desire to help with the county road situation around Oak Hills High School, further discussion is needed to clarify the HUSD's financial participation in this endeavor," HUSD Superintendent Mark McKinney said on Friday.

In the meantime, the county is moving ahead with several interim steps intended to improve the traffic situation around the high school. Beginning on Tuesday, October 13, the county will begin work on widening and grading El Centro as a temporary measure before paving happens in the coming months. The grading is scheduled to be completed by October 29.

And in the meantime, the county and HUSD will be sitting down to figure out who will pay for more than $1.4 million in road improvements, at a time when both government agencies are strapped for cash.

"Does the school have money for roads? No," said Kirk. "But does it have money for student safety? Well, if we can."

Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 956-7108 or at beau@hesperiastar.com. Follow us on Twitter at Twitter.com/HesperiaStar.