Northridge treasurer Felicia Drummey described the times as unprecedented and tragic Nov. 24 before a troubled board of education unanimously decided to eliminate four classified positions, spring sports and extracurricular activities in an effort to balance its operating budget.

Northridge treasurer Felicia Drummey described the times as unprecedented and tragic Nov. 24 before a troubled board of education unanimously decided to eliminate four classified positions, spring sports and extracurricular activities in an effort to balance its operating budget.

"It's a true tragedy we're discussing these cuts," Drummey said. "We're taking away from programming and the service we provide. This is the first of many. Our district is in turmoil. We've been building up to this. This is the writing on the wall."

It was almost midnight on Monday when the board acted to eliminate the following for the balance of the current school year: two secretarial and two custodial positions, costing a total of $76,263; equipment purchases totaling $65,000; supplies with a pricetag of $20,000; cuts in supplemental contracts, stipends, transportation and fuel totaling $50,000; and $30,000 in purchased services.

Board member Lee Hatfield proposed tabling the decision to cut senior spring varsity sports and non-sporting activities until Dec. 15, but his motion failed 4-1.

The board crunched numbers with Drummey in a public meeting that began at 9 p.m. in a packed media center, with students lining the front row.

Even with the approximately $242,300 in reductions, the district is left with a $42,000 operating deficit and expenses exceeding revenue by $25,000, Drummey said. The district will still need to borrow to make its July payroll.

Borrowing against future revenue isn't new to the district, Drummey said. It was forced to do that in July and a year ago January.

The district borrowed $783,870 on July 9 in order to meet its payroll obligations on July 11, she said.

"What presents a challenge for us is there's no cash reserve," she said.

Board members are already talking about taking a ballot issue to the voters in May.

Voters defeated a proposed 3.5-mill emergency operating levy earlier this month, and a proposed earned income tax issue failed in May and November of last year.

Board member Troy Willeke asked whether cuts could be restored if a May ballot issue passes.

"That's the million dollar question," Drummey said. "We can take the objectives of the board back to the (finance) committee and model it."

Superintendent John Shepard said the district needs to plan now for the "what ifs" of May.

"We need to look at instruction and data from the state on how we're utilizing staff," he said. "More than likely there will be reductions in instructional staff."

Drummey said administrators examined extra- and co-curricular activities that have already begun and those will continue.

For instance, she said, the National Honor Society, student councils and Spanish clubs are well into activities and programs, and the recommendation is for those to continue.

The elimination of spring sports and extra-curriculars and transportation and fuel for those activities will save the district $50,000.

Although there's an athletic fund, Drummey said the athletic program overall is not self-supporting.

"The general fund has paid stipends, transportation and fuel," she said.

In other board action, a resolution was approved to allow negotiations for the sale of the Hartford building in Croton.

The next board of education meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 15, in the high school media center.