Alameda school district employees soon may receive layoff warnings as officials begin looking for ways to balance the books in the face of a $4 million shortfall under the governor's proposed state budget.

The bleak forecast is prompting the school board to gather for a special meeting Monday at Paden Elementary School, where Chief Financial Officer Luz Cazares will likely provide a briefing and field questions.

Cazares already has said cuts are inevitable.

So far, district officials have not identified positions or programs that could be eliminated or consolidated to make up the money, Superintendent Ardella Dailey said.

But on Monday trustees will look at ways to deal with the issue -- such as the creation of a task force that could make recommendations -- and work out a timeline for action.

While Cazares said she will have a better idea of what's on the horizon after the state budget is revised in May, she also noted that the belt-tightening could kick in as soon as July.

What makes the shortfall especially hard is that Alameda officials say they have little to cut: They already have slashed about $7.7 million over the past seven years, including closing three elementary schools.

Last year alone, the school board voted to lower spending by $1.4 million.

During this latest round special education could be hit especially hard, losing about $285,000, Cazares said.

Much of the loss in Alameda, or about $2.7 million, stems from the elimination of a Cost of Living Adjustment in the state's 2008-2009 education budget. The remaining $1.3 million would come from this year's budget -- money that has been already allocated for salaries and other expenses.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's plan calls for cutting $4.3 billion overall from schools, plus immediately suspending the law that ensures basic public school funding. He announced it Jan. 10.

Also on Monday at Paden School, Dailey will host a workshop on ways to balance enrollment at Alameda elementary schools, while a task force on the issue will offer suggestions.

The idea is to give parents and others a chance to provide feedback before Dailey makes a recommendation to trustees later this month.

The workshop begins at 6:30 p.m., while the special school board meeting begins at 7:30 p.m.

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

If you go

The Alameda Board of Education will meet at 7:30 p.m. Monday in the Multi-Purpose Room at Paden Elementary School, 444 Central Ave. A community workshop on balancing elementary school enrollment will take place at 6:30 p.m. at the same location.