For the first time in five years, Hesperia Unified teachers had no reason to beware the ides of March. The state-mandated March 15 deadline by which teachers must be told if their services will not be required in the coming year came and went with nary a pink slip sent out to teachers.


But it's because not that the Victor Valley's largest employer is flush with cash, said officials.


"The budget could be bad," David McLaughlin, the district's Assistant Superintendent of Business Services, said Friday, "especially if the tax initiative proposed by the governor is not approved by voters and the state imposes additional cuts in January of 2013."


Public school districts rely on the state for the vast majority of their revenue, but the California legislature's perennial problems in passing a budget on time, a habit of balancing it by cutting payments to school districts, and mid-year cuts to funds already promised, mean the HUSD has to pass a budget months before officials know how much money they might be getting.


"There's got to be a better funding system for public schools in California, but until that time comes, we deal with the funding roller coaster," Superintendent Mark McKinney said Friday.


Pink slips were sent out to teachers in advance of the 2008-09, 2009-10, 2010-11 and 2011-12 school years, although some or all of the termination notices each year ended up being rescinded.


"We've cut teachers to the bone. Our class sizes are maxed out," school board president Chris Bentley said Friday. "We're just very lucky the reserves we've (accumulated) over the last several years allowed us to not cut teachers this year."


"If the (proposed tax) initiatives don't pass in November, we can sustain that hit for one year," McKinney said Friday.


"Any reductions we need in (the 2012-13 school year) can be handled through natural attrition, i.e. retirements and resignations," McLaughlin said via email. McKinney and the school board "are willing to use our reserve to cover any additional cuts the state imposes in January of 2013, knowing that we will need to make additional cuts in (the 2013-14 school year). In short, we'll use our reserve to postpone additional cuts for one year while we see what the state does."


Although teachers are safe for the coming school year, other employees may not be: By law, they only have to be notified if their services will not be needed 45 days before the start of the new school year, which is tentatively scheduled to begin on Aug. 13. The district is currently negotiating with the union that represents non-teaching staff, McKinney said, characterizing them as "very positive," and unlikely to lead to any layoffs.


"Our folks have made sacrifices for the last three years, and we did not want to go to them again this year," McKinney said. "By the grace of people and their sacrifices, we are still holding our own."