To reduce costs amid the state fiscal crisis, the John Swett Unified School District board this week approved a second round of cuts to next year's budget.

Board members unanimously decided to lay off two computer lab assistants -- one at Carquinez Middle School and one at John Swett High School -- and eliminate three vacant positions and a part-time science aide at Rodeo Hills Elementary, among other things. The cuts will yield $300,000 in estimated savings.

Wednesday's reductions, in addition to the board's recent decision to reduce the teaching staff by six, means the district so far has carved about $600,000 from its $13 million 2008-09 budget but still has about $300,000 left to trim.

"It's something, it's significant," Superintendent Michael Roth said Thursday. "We're getting closer to what we need to cut to maintain solvency."

School districts across the state are feeling the pain of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposed 2008-09 budget, which calls for drastic cuts to education next year totaling more than $4 billion.

Other cuts unanimously approved by the board Wednesday include the elimination of a campus supervisor stipend; a reduction in communications, utilities and services spending; cancellation of a planned maintenance department reorganization; elimination of a part-time behaviorist; and increasing the cost of annual student bus passes from $275 to $300.

Roth said the cuts have been tough because declining enrollment forced the district to slice deeply from 2000 to 2004, and it is already operating at a bare-bones capacity.

"Of all those cuts, none of them have been restored," Roth said. "This has certainly been difficult if not more so because of that history."

More cuts are on the way. Another special meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, when board members will discuss reducing pay for substitute teachers by $5 per day, reducing the day care program at Rodeo Hills Elementary by 50 percent and eliminating transportation costs for the district's music and athletics programs, meaning that parents and booster clubs must absorb the cost.

Other proposed trims include reducing the travel and training budget for conferences and professional development activities and eliminating board member stipends of $240 per month.

Those cuts, if approved by the board, will yield about $65,000 in additional savings, Roth said.

Reach Kimberly S. Wetzel at 510-262-2798 or kwetzel@bayareanewsgroup.com.

If you go

  • WHAT: The John Swett Unified School District board will continue discussion on the budget.

  • WHEN: 6 p.m. Wednesday

  • WHERE: District administrative office building, 400 Parker Ave., Rodeo