The state of California's budget crisis may mean up to 54 fewer teachers working in the Hesperia Unified School District next year.


California is facing an estimated $14.5 billion difference between tax revenue and legally required spending. And part of that spending is the Average Daily Attendance payments made by the state to public school districts based on student attendance.


"Basically, we get like $6,000 per student, and the governor says 'I can't afford that, I'll pay you $5,500 per student,'" said George Landon, Assistant Superintendent of Business Services for the Hesperia Unified School District.


The state's ADA payments make up 73 percent of the HUSD's general operation fund -- as opposed to funds that can only be spent on expenses like facilities. The 7 percent cut currently being discussed in Sacramento would mean a $5.5 million budget shortfall in Fiscal Year 2008-2009. Salaries and benefits make up 76 percent of the HUSD's budget.


At Monday night's school board meeting, the board voted on resolutions that would cut 54 teachers from schools in the 2008-2009 school year, reduce the hours of principals, counselors, psychologists and others, and set down the criteria for choosing who will be cut and who will stay.


"I know this is a very difficult issue that we're all facing," board member Bruce Minton said. "Without exaggeration, I did not sleep Thursday night," after he first saw the proposed cuts.


The cuts include 40 elementary school teaching positions, 10 middle school teaching positions and 4 high school teaching positions. Among those laid off would be 4 elementary school music teachers and the district's high school piano teacher. Of the 40 elementary school teacher layoffs, 24 of them would be kindergarten teachers.


"I believe all of these 54 people, within the next year or two, we'll need," Minton said. "And if I were them, I wouldn't wait around for two years."


Those laid off will be chosen by a 12-point set of criteria, comparing teachers' credentials, teaching experience, educational levels and special training, work in the district outside of standard classroom duties, previous performance evaluations and even the number of days absent over the last three years.


Teachers may not be the only ones being laid off, if the worst case budget scenario comes to pass, but non-teaching staff only have to be given a 45 day notice before layoffs begin, by law.


Statewide, as many as 107,000 teachers may lose their jobs, along with 137,000 non-teaching school staffers, according to board member Lee Rogers. Any cuts will depend on the final budget approved by the state legislature, which is unlikely to pass a budget before summer and may not pass one until much later.


The school board unanimously accepted the resolutions outlining the layoffs, service reductions and criteria for workforce reductions.


"This was thrust upon us by the state of California," said board president and retired teacher Robert Kirk. "This is a horrific thing."


The next regular meeting of the HUSD school board will take place on April 7 at 6 p.m. at 15576 Main Street.


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