Neil Nisperos, Staff Writer
Created: 01/05/2011 08:17:17 PM PST

CHINO – Chino Valley Unified board members will be asked tonight to make $12.5 million in cuts to deal with its dire budget situation.

The proposed cuts include the elimination of clerical positions, school counselors, nurses as well as the elementary school music program and school transportation.

Work-year reductions for district directors and coordinators, occupational therapists, psychologists and program specialists will also be considered.

Superintendent Wayne Joseph made the recommendations to the school board on Tuesday at a budget study session at the district offices in Chino.

Chino Valley Unified faces a potential $31.5 million deficit over the next two years.

“There are people associated with these positions,” Joseph said. “These are people I have to look at in the face. So these are not anonymous numbers. These are not anonymous positions. This is where the hurt starts.”

An additional $16 million in potential cuts, including negotiable items, will be identified at the district’s Jan. 16 budget study session.

The district’s unrestricted budget for this fiscal year is about $164 million – of which 91 percent goes to salaries and benefits.

Even if the district eliminated the other services without cutting into personnel, it wouldn’t get the district halfway toward dealing with its deficit, said Sandra Chen, assistant superintendent of business services.

The district has received about $5.4 million in education jobs funding from the federal government that may save some positions and programs, such as nurses, transportation and elementary music, officials said.

Some school districts have used the federal money to rescind furlough days, but Joseph requested that board members use the money to save jobs.

Joseph also urged the board not to delay tonight on acting on the first set of his recommended cuts.

“I have a concern, I must tell you, if the board does not act on this $12 million on Thursday,” he said.

“So to put it out another two weeks, or another four weeks, or whatever, to me, is just putting off the inevitable. You’re still going to have to put out the $12 million at some point.”

Despite Joseph’s urging for immediate action, board member Brandon Blanchard said he wanted more time to look into the proposed cuts. He also asked district staffers to consider other areas to cut, such as reducing the number of teams per sport and athletic stipends.

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