By Canan Tasci Staff Writer
Created: 02/25/2011 07:41:57 PM PST

RANCHO CUCAMONGA – Superintendent Michael Whisenand has never had to plan for two budgets or consider laying off teachers.

That changed on Thursday.

Alta Loma School District board members approved sending out 18 layoff notices in March to teachers as well as other certificated employees.

“In my history in this district, which is 34 years, we’ve never had to look at things like this,” Whisenand said. “This is pretty grim.”

Board members approved sending out the preliminary layoff notices at a budget session on Thursday that was attended by more than 40 parents and district staff members.

Districts have until March 15 to send out the notices informing teachers, counselors, nurses and other certificated personnel they may not have a job at the end of the 2011-12 school year.

The layoff notices are just one issue that the school district is tackling.

In order for Gov. Jerry Brown to close a $25 billion budget gap without cutting funding to K-12 schools, he has proposed voters approve a five-year extension to temporary taxes in a special election in June.

If the tax extensions do not get on the ballot or if they do not pass, the district will have to look at slashing its 2011-12 school budget by almost $2.2 million.

“The unfortunate (thing) is who knows what will happen between March 15 and the end of June – it’s a huge unknown but we have to do this now, but we hope we don’t have use it,” said Whisenand.

If the taxes do pass, Whisenand said, “The district will not have to make any additional cuts, it will business as usual.”

During the study session, district officials provided the board and audience with an overview of what the district has done in the past to remain fiscally solvent and what it plans to do in the future.

One of the options presented was the elimination of home-to-school transportation.

Jim Ashton, district assistant superintendent of administrative services, provided an overview of the revenue generated by transportation.

“The district received a state allocation of $394,623 for home to school transportation (for the 2009-10 school year,)” Ashton said.

“The district will collect an estimated $20,000 in billing for `contract’ trips, and 50 percent of contract trip billing is used to cover expenses, (and) the balance is used for vehicle replacement budget.”

In terms of the transportation expenses, Ashton said, in the 2009-10 school year, the district spent $851,301, which created a shortfall of about $456,000 to the district’s general fund.

For the 2010-11 school year, the impact will cost the district $628,171.

Ashton presented five options related to transportation:

Make no changes to the current program.

Decrease the number of eligible students for bus service to and from school.

Eliminate home-to-school transportation for non-special education students.

Reduce transportation services.

Implement parent pay plan.

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