High school athletes soon may no longer play, while some middle school counselors may find themselves out of work. Even the school district's swimming pools may be under lock and key.

Trustees will decide tonight how to make up a projected $4.5 million shortfall in state money -- belt-tightening that they say will be felt across the district, including among students in the classrooms.

The idea of eliminating all funding for high school sports already has come under fire from parents, teachers and students, who packed the school board meeting last week to ask trustees to reconsider.

But Superintendent Ardella Dailey is going forward with the recommendation -- which will save the district about $345,000 -- as well as a proposal to end class-size reduction for high school freshmen. That will help make up about $92,000 of the shortfall.

Dailey has decided to hold off, however, on cutting Encinal High School's JROTC program, which would have saved about $61,000.

The initial cost-saving measures from Dailey cover just this fiscal year and total about $2.8 million. She proposes an additional $2.2 million in cuts during the next fiscal year through "restructuring of the K-12 education program," which she said could mean closing or consolidating schools.

Tonight's special meeting will take place at Chipman Middle School on Pacific Avenue.

Other school districts, including Oakland, are wrestling with similar cuts.

Closing the district's two swim centers, which is also in the cards, would save $120,000, according to Luz Cazares, the district's chief financial officer.


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Also recommended are changing the hours of custodians -- to recoup $125,000 -- and reducing the number of middle school counselors to save $90,000.

Brad Thomas, the athletic director of Alameda High School, said he expects he will try to maintain funding for the sports program through fundraising, including soliciting donations from parents and alumni. But he also said what will happen hinges on what the school board decides.

The current Alameda shortfall stems from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposal to cut at least $4 billion in overall education spending as a way to help make up the state budget deficit.

Schwarzenegger also wants to suspend Proposition 98, the constitutional amendment that guarantees K-12 schools and community colleges annual money from the state's general fund.

In response, dozens of Bay Area parents -- including some from Alameda -- visited Sacramento last week to lobby against the governor's budget proposal.

Reach Peter Hegarty at phegarty@bayareanewsgroup.com or 510-748-1654.

If you go

The Board of Education will meet at 6:30 p.m. today at Chipman Middle School, 401 Pacific Ave.