CONCORD — The Mt. Diablo school district plans to mail 600 layoff notices to teachers and other employees today, reflecting about $16 million in cuts the school board has made.

The school board on Tuesday unanimously approved layoffs for nearly 326 certificated staff members and 16 classified custodial employees, in addition to about 98 certificated staff layoffs approved last week. The pink slips are preliminary notices for layoffs that could become effective June 30, due to state funding reductions.

Board president Gary Eberhart blamed the cuts on the state Legislature.

"We have to anticipate how many certificated positions we're going to need next year," he said. "But, we don't know how much money we'll have until the state passes a budget on June 30. And that never seems to happen."

Although the board has agreed to lay off 424 teachers and other certificated staff members such as vice principals and librarians, the district will send out about 176 more pink slips than that to give itself a cushion against further reductions, Gail Isserman, assistant superintendent for personnel services, said Wednesday. The district is sending notices to all certificated employees whose positions are not included in the general fund, because their restricted funding could be reduced in the future.

All probationary certificated employees and those with up to four years of permanent employment in the district will receive notices, Isserman said. In some specialized areas, those with more experience could also receive the notices, she added.

In addition, all certificated administrators have received notices of possible reassignment. Final layoff notices for teachers will be sent May 15, four days before a $99 per parcel tax election that could bring the district $7 million annually. The measure needs two-thirds voter approval.

The board expects to approve layoff notices for more classified employees such as custodians and campus supervisors March 24 and April 7, implementing cuts the board has already made. These employees get a 45-day notice of possible layoff, Isserman said.

Also at the meeting, the board responded to athletic boosters, students and coaches who wanted to know how they could retain sports programs next year without the district's $721,400 contribution, which the board eliminated as part of its budget reductions.

Associate superintendent Alan Young is collecting the names of people interested in serving on an advisory committee to assist the district in devising a plan to pay for sports. If the parcel tax passes, the board could reinstate positions or programs it has cut. It will meet Saturday to discuss priorities for 2009 and beyond, which could include sports and the parcel tax.

Theresa Harrington covers the Mt. Diablo school district. Reach her at 925-945-4764 or tharrington@bayareanewsgroup.com.

If you go
The Mt. Diablo school board will discuss priorities at 9 a.m. Saturday in the district office at 1936 Carlotta Drive in Concord. Details about budget cuts are at 925-682-8000 ext. 4000 or www.mdusd.k12.ca.us.