MORAGA -- From delaying technology upgrades to laying off teachers, the Moraga School District has prioritized how it will cut $837,552 from the 2008-2009 school year budget.

The school board discussed the prioritization of the cuts at its Tuesday night meeting but did not vote on making the actual reductions. Districts across California are facing cuts because of the proposed $4.5 billion cut in state education funding.

The priorities for Moraga include not filling the vacant director of admissions position, cutting some classified positions and seven temporary teacher positions. Some of the staffing cuts are being made up by attrition and retirements, said Superintendent Richard Schafer.

Other recommendations include delaying technology upgrades which could save $80,000, reducing art services, reducing library hours and cutting clerical services.

But cutting library services by a proposed 40 percent -- $100,000 -- would be a last resort as far as the school board is concerned, Schafer said.

"Library services is the last thing they want to cut and if it's cut, there's a caveat that perhaps not to cut it at the 40 percent level," he said.

The priorities include creating two combination classes, therefore cutting two teachers. Cutting three periods of instruction at Joaquin Moraga Intermediate School would save $45,000. There are also proposed cuts in hours for arts instruction, English assistants, science aides and a district office clerk.


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Some of the reductions are not just because of the state budget slash, but also because Moraga has declining enrollment. The kindergarten program, which had as many as 190 students at one time, this year has 159 students enrolled.

The total the school needs to cut from its $15 million budget is $937,000 -- but the superintendent is recommending to use $100,000 from reserves.

"I personally, as the superintendent, felt that I would want to encourage the board to use some reserves to make up the difference because otherwise it means expanding class size and reducing more arts, music and (physical education)," he said.

The board will have to make the cuts by June in order to have an on-time budget.

Now that the priorities have been identified, Schafer will go to the PTAs and the Moraga Education Foundation and see if help is available.

"Our community has been unbelievably generous in what they give us," he said. "What I really want is to put the pressure on Sacramento and tell them they need to fund education at the same percentage they did 10 years ago."

Cindy Millard, Las Trampas Creek Council member, which represents PTAs in Walnut Creek and Lamorinda, said the council is continuing its letter writing campaign to the governor and lawmakers. Already more than 3,000 letters have been written by area parents asking for full funding for education.

"We are also interested in reaching people outside the school community," Millard said in an e-mail. "The future of California is at stake -- it is in everyone's best interest to have quality education."

Reach Elisabeth Nardi at 952-2617 or enardi@bayareanewsgroup.com.