The Moraga School District is fine-tuning a plan to soften the blow of the governor's proposed budget cuts to California schools.

Superintendent Rick Schafer presented a strategy to the school board Feb. 4, modeled after a plan designed by a Massachusetts school district.

"We just need to have that safety net in place," Schafer said.

The model prioritizes areas in which cutbacks should be made. The Moraga plan suggests the first areas to trim should be expenses such as maintenance supplies, utilities and new learning materials that can be delayed.

Next on the list affected by the reduced funding is staff outside the classroom, such as counselors, maintenance personnel and administrators.

Academic programs would be impacted next, with the focus on cuts in the areas of art, music and physical education. Schafer said he hopes ongoing support of those programs can made up by Moraga Education Foundation donations.

Classroom teachers would be last on the list of cutbacks, but Schafer said that doesn't mean they will be immune from taking a hit from the $637,000 to $837,000 shortfall in the district next year.

"At the magnitude of cuts we have, I anticipate it will impact all levels we have here," Schafer said.

Board president Dennis Kelleher was absent from the discussion, but the rest of the members agreed it's a necessary course of action, although some had their concerns.

Board member Charles MacNutty feared the Education Foundation would be stretched too thin.

Member Steven Hirsch suggested creating additional programs to increase funding in the district, such as child care and after school programs.

The plan will be discussed more in-depth by the board at a special meeting at the end of February. A final decision will be made at the March 11 meeting. The deadline for layoff notifications is March. 15.

Reach Nargis Nooristani at 925-943-8399 or nnooristani@bayareanewsgroup.com