Approximately 94 Hesperia Unified School District can expect to see pink slips coming their way in the coming weeks.


The HUSD is currently negotiating with the unions that represent employees, seeking to close an $8 million budget deficit. (The district receives 70 percent of its funding from the state, and thus the state's budget problems are also the district's.) But state law requires public school districts to let teachers know by March 15 if their services will not be required in the coming year. So the board has to prepare a Plan B and balance the budget by cutting jobs. Ninety percent of the district's general fund pays for salaries and benefits, leaving few other places for the district to cut.


But that didn't mean the board had to like it.


"As board members, about all we can do is cut things off" to balance the district's budget, board member Chris Bentley said at Monday night's school board meeting. "It's extremely unpleasant."


"We have long months, perhaps long years before we turn around the financial situation in the state of California," said board member Robert Kirk.


Although only the teachers are represented on the initial list of job cuts, since other employees legally must only receive a 45 day notice that their services will not be required in the coming school year, the district intends to spread the job cuts around as evenly as possible, should they be required.


"We need to make sure we spread the misery as equally and equitably as we can," said board president Hardy Black.


Tuesday morning -- the board ran out of time Monday night, following special reports on the district's financial picture and comments from the public, including a large number of Sultana High School students concerned about the future of the school's AVID program -- the board voted in favor of resolutions authorizing the layoffs and setting forth the criteria for deciding which teachers would get the pink slips. Both votes passed on a 4-1 vote, with Bentley dissenting.


The cuts include the equivalent of 94 teachers -- the number is actually 94 Full Time Equivalents, where multiple part-timers can add up to a single teacher -- including 44 elementary teachers, 12 middle school teachers and 41 high school teachers.


Who gets cut will be based on 13 criteria, including seniority (the least senior teachers getting cut first), teaching credentials, whether or not the teacher has taught in the district in the last three years, experience at different grade levels, experience teaching different subjects, experience at different sites, what sort of credentials and degrees a teacher has, special training and the teacher's most recent evaluation. If all else fails, and teachers are tied, there will be a lottery, the kind no teacher wants to win.


The next regular meeting of the HUSD school board will be held on March 8 at 6 p.m. in the HUSD Educational Support Center Annex, 15576 Main Street.


Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 760-956-7108 or at beau@hesperiastar.com. Follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/Hesperia.Star