LIVERMORE — School leaders in Livermore, Pleasanton and the San Ramon Valley districts drilled deeper into their already dehydrated budgets Tuesday, lamenting the need to make multimillion-dollar cuts that could wipe out entire educational programs.
It was a tough night for board members in all three districts, where fiscal slashes over the next two years likely will result in even fewer teachers, larger class sizes and reduced funding for music education, library services, athletics and other core programs, officials said.
No firm decisions have been made yet; districts have until March 15 to notify teachers of possible layoffs. However, the consensus Tuesday was that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's newly released budget proposal bodes worse for education than what originally was anticipated.
In Livermore, district leaders until recently had been holding out hope that the district's $100 million budget would have to be reduced by only another $6 million in 2010-11.
New estimates put the target closer to $8.8 million, interim Superintendent Mike Martinez said.
That's on top of the more than $13 million the district already has cut in the past two years.
"I say with great sadness that we're cutting off limbs now," trustee Kate Runyon said. "It's never been more dire than this. It's as bad as it gets."
Items on a list of possible reductions in that district include closing an elementary school, eliminating nearly all adult education programs, ending all stipends for athletics and other extracurricular activities, eliminating fifth-grade music, scaling summer school and library offerings down to the bare basics, reducing the number of high school vice principals, enlarging class sizes districtwide and eliminating paid professional development days — a measure that would translate into salary reductions for teachers.
Likewise in San Ramon Valley Unified, officials estimate that about $30 million will have to be trimmed from the district's $215 million budget over the next two years. In Pleasanton Unified, cuts anticipated for the 2010-11 school year could exceed $8 million, officials said. Pleasanton's budget for next school year is about $110 million.
Leaders in the Livermore and Pleasanton districts said they had hoped concessions by employee bargaining units, such as furlough days and changes to benefit offerings, could help reduce the effects on students.
One measure discussed by Pleasanton officials would shrink the school year by 10 days and suspend step-and-column wage increases. If successfully negotiated, the cuts would save $6.1 million, officials said.
Before a standing-room-only crowd, Pleasanton officials contemplated the possible elimination of extracurricular funding and all elementary school vice principals.
Other possibilities include reducing the number of vice principals at the high schools, scaling back the number of counselors at all grade levels and eliminating 10 classified employees.
The group includes secretaries, custodians and technology support personnel.
"There is no way I can support that cut list, but I have to when push comes to shove," said Pat Kernan, a 13-year board member.
At previous board meetings, Pleasanton leaders also discussed ending class-size reduction programs in grades K-3 and in ninth-grade English and math — a measure that would save an estimated $1.7 million through the elimination of an untold number of teachers.
Similarly in the San Ramon Valley district, officials Tuesday discussed the possibility of increasing class sizes to meet budgetary targets.
Until now, the district had been using reserve and federal stimulus money to get by, Superintendent Steve Enoch said. Major cuts now are anticipated, he added.
Trustees in that district, for the most part, did not discuss specifics Tuesday. They lamented the need to make reductions and called for all interested parties to work together to make them.
Teachers and classified union representatives said they wanted to be part of the solution and also that they wanted "fairness" in how decisions are made.
Staff writers Robert Jordan and Eric Louie contributed to this story.
SAN RAMON VALLEY UNIFIED
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