The governing board of the Lafayette school district voted Monday to lay off one middle school English teacher because of declining enrollment and cut the equivalent of three full-time support staff members because of state budget cuts.

The district has not laid off a teacher in more than three decades.

Extra donation pledges of $846,000 from parents' clubs and the Lafayette Arts and Science Foundation closed the rest of the $1.7 million deficit created by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposed state budget, which reduced education spending by $4.5 billion.

Without the donations, the district would have to cut the equivalent of 16 more full-time support positions. The parents' groups must still raise the money they pledged.

Teachers from Stanley Middle School gathered outside the school Monday morning to protest the prospect of layoffs.

"In the 32 years I've been here, we've never laid off a teacher," said Stanley Middle School teacher Jim Changaris. "It's just a shame to start that."

Teacher Susan Gabriel said that the district should not look at teachers as individuals, not as a full-time equivalents on a budget.

"We thought we were more than just an FTE," she said.

The board must make the cuts that are best for students, board president Stephenie Teichman said, and keeping the teacher would result in significantly smaller class sizes than the district has planned for.

"We feel very strongly about the quality of our teaching staff, but because of the severity of the budget cuts, we must keep the children's faces in front of us," she said.

Reach Paul Thissen at 925-943-8163 or pthissen@bayareanewsgroup.com.