The latest round of budget blows raised the Mt. Diablo school district's job toll to more than 100 positions since cost-cutting began two months ago.

The school board eliminated the equivalent of roughly 15 positions for 2008-09 Monday night. Six high-poverty elementary schools will lose a vice principal next fall. College Park High School in Pleasant Hill also will drop a vice principal.

The state faces a monumental budget shortfall of an estimated $16 billion. To stay in good fiscal standing as state funds dwindle, the East Bay's second largest district needs to cut roughly $14 million, Superintendent Gary McHenry told trustees.

"The bottom line is: Positions will need to be cut, programs will need to be cut," McHenry said. "It's going to be very, very painful for all of us."

On Monday, the school board voted to shrink the 2008-09 operating budget by another $2 million, putting total reductions to nearly $11 million. That figure is more than 3.5 percent of the $300 million previously earmarked for expenditures.

Roughly half the $2 million in reductions come from job cutbacks. Getting rid of a mobile maintenance crew -- dispatched for emergency cleanups at schools with methicillin-resistant staph infections, for instance -- will save more than $180,000.

Losing a vice principal at College Park will free up more than $100,000.

Board president April Treece said she regretted making the decisions, but that they were necessary.


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"It is so devastating to the children of this district, the families of this district," Treece said.

Eliminating the six elementary school vice principals will save the district about $530,000.

To do so, the district is suspending its policy that allows vice principals at schools with fewer than 700 students. Schools that may be affected include Bel-Air, Delta View, Rio Vista, Shore Acres, Sun Terrace and Ygancio Valley elementary schools, said Sue Berg, school district spokeswoman.

This reduction, which takes away extra disciplinary support at some of the district's lowest income schools, again drew opposition from board members Gary Eberhart and Paul Strange, who voted against the cut.

McHenry suggested freezing a director of technology position, which freed up $122,429.

Another million dollars in efficiency came from shifting costs to different accounts.

Though the school board Monday spared such parent favorites as elementary school music and art programs, those may be on the line before the end of the year if the Legislature fails to keep more money in education.

"We're going to have a very big battle ahead of us," board member Linda Mayo said.

IF YOU GO

The Mt. Diablo school board will hold a budget hearing at 7 p.m. March 4 in the Little Theater at Northgate High School, 425 Castle Rock Road, Walnut Creek.

Shirley Dang covers education. Reach her at 925-977-8418 or sdang@bayareanewsgroup.com.