Joe Nelson, Staff Writer
Posted: 02/19/2012 05:19:39 PM PST

The San Bernardino City Unified School District’s board of trustees on Tuesday will consider a budget cuts plan that could call for hundreds of layoffs for the next school year.

Mohammad Z. Islam, chief business and financial officer for the district, will present his plan at 4 p.m. Tuesday.

Islam presented a dismal financial picture earlier this month.

In addition to layoffs, classroom sizes are expected to swell, from a 30-to-1 teacher-to-student ratio to a 33-to-1 ratio.

Nearly a third of the proposed layoffs include special education teachers and aides – 24 special education teachers and 36 certificated employees from the special education division.

School board member Danny Tillman laments that possibility, recalling a time, not too long ago, when teacher-to-student ratios for kindergarten through third grade was 20-to-1. And students with learning disabilities and other special needs are likely going to struggle even more to get the attention they need to succeed in school, he said.

“The quality of education goes down . . . especially the students who have the most needs,” Tillman said. “There’s going to be consequences.”

In a best-case scenario, reduced funding from the state will force the district to cut its 2012-2013 budget by roughly $22 million, which would mean roughly 162 employees, including teachers and administrators, would receive layoff notices before the annual March 15 notification deadline.

But if the special tax to fund education doesn’t pass in November, the district will have to shave $39.4 million from its budget, which could nearly double the number of layoff notices.

“Eighty-five to 90 percent of our budget is personnel, so the only place you can cut is by laying off personnel,” said Tillman, who has proposed reducing the school year in order to save money and jobs.

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