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San Bernardino faces $21M in education cuts; hundreds may be laid off

February 21, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
San Bernardino school officials are under pressure as they consider budget cuts that could lead to hundreds of layoffs, including some that could decimate special education programs.

San Bernardino City Unified School District board members at their meeting Tuesday night considered $21 million in budget cuts.

The school district said it is attempting to keep cuts away from the classroom, but 80 percent of its budget is personnel. That means cutting jobs is almost certain.

"They range from clerical, secretaries, custodial workers, it impact just about everybody in the district in one way or another," said Yolanda Ortega, the school district's interim superintendent.

That also includes 38 positions in its special education segment.

Next school year, there could be fewer teachers in the classroom and an increase in the number of students per class.

Staff that remains will receive a 5 percent pay cut.

The district is also looking at modifying the school calendar from year around back to a traditional one.

The budget cuts would also impact special education and adult programs

The only silver lining in the grim list of cuts is a proposal for an early retirement program which could save some jobs.

"If enough people take that early retirement program, if the board approves it, it would mean that there would be additional vacancies in some of these people would maybe not be laid off, they'd be able to go into a vacant position," Ortega said.

Layoff notices would have to be sent my March 15.

The severity of the cuts would also depend on voters, district officials said. In November, a proposition will be put forward for special education funding. If it doesn't pass, the district will have to consider another $39 million in cuts.