Both the West Contra Costa and John Swett school districts will hold special meetings this week to discuss cutting everything from teachers to librarians to sports in an effort to pare down next year's budgets.
Districts statewide are feeling the pain of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposed 2008-09 budget, which calls for drastic cuts to education totaling about $4 billion.
West Contra Costa Unified officials estimate that they must cut more than $10 million from the district's $300 million budget, while John Swett officials say they need to trim about $900,000 from a $13 million budget.
"It's a tough target to make, I can tell you," said Sheri Gamba, associate superintendent of business services for West Contra Costa. "It's just very difficult."
John Swett board members -- who oversee schools in Crockett and Rodeo -- may decide as early as Thursday whether to eliminate about eight full-time teaching positions for a savings of more than $350,000. Reductions discussed at previous meetings include the elimination of a kindergarten teacher and reading specialist at Rodeo Hills Elementary School, 2.4 full-time teaching positions at Carquinez Middle School, 2.6 full-time positions at John Swett High School and 0.6 positions at Willow Continuation High School.
Other things that could end up on the chopping block in the 1,700-student district include music
In West Contra Costa, officials have held a series of community meetings to gather input on what school services the public would like to see remain and what they would cut. District officials will present the results of the meetings and discuss the timeline for making cuts Thursday.
Gamba and other officials have not specifically said what could be cut. The board eliminated 11 vacant, nonteaching positions at a meeting earlier this month. Decisions likely will be made by the board in March or April, she said.
By law, John Swett and West Contra Costa officials must notify certified employees by March 15 of layoffs planned for next year. Gamba said it is uncertain if budget cuts will come in the form of layoffs, but normal teacher turnover rates could help the district avoid that scenario.
The district's situation will worsen in 2009-10 if voters reject a parcel tax measure planned for either the June or November ballot. The current parcel tax, which funds athletics, library services, counselors, special education and more, generates $10 million per year and expires in June 2009.
Reach Kimberly S. Wetzel at 510-262-2798 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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