The Northridge Local School District Board of Education has scheduled a rare end-of-the-month meeting for Monday, Jan. 31, to discuss three budget cut scenarios.

The Northridge Local School District Board of Education has scheduled a rare end-of-the-month meeting for Monday, Jan. 31, to discuss three budget cut scenarios.

The cuts are being proposed to trim staff in anticipation of a May income tax levy and expected cuts in state funding.

Voters twice last year rejected renewals of the district's 1 percent income tax, first denying a permanent renewal in May, then a five-year renewal in November.

Earlier this month the board approved placing the five-year renewal on the May ballot, but the income tax expired Dec. 31, and cuts must be made to fill the funding gap.

Treasurer Jim Hudson has made clear that this expiration means the district has lost $1.7-million that cannot be recovered.

"We have three different scenarios to implement," Hudson said. "We are going to have to compensate for the $1.7-million that we lost. We're going to try to make that up through budget reductions. Then we have scenarios if (the levy) passes and if it fails, and if the state exceeds a 20 percent threshold (in cuts in state funding)."

In the worst case, the district would have to begin cutting into staff to the point that it would approach operating at state minimum requirements, rather than the broader service that most families expect, Hudson said.

"There is not a lot of fluff in the district," Hudson said.

"When I worked for the state auditor's office, that's what I did, was performance audits. I could go into a number of districts and identify reductions that could tally a million dollars or two million dollars," he said. "Here it is extremely difficult to do that without diving into programs that really define how we operate."

Under a worst-case scenario, were the income tax to fail again, the district would probably lose vocational agriculture and consumer science (formerly home economics) altogether, along with reductions in art, technology classes and other programs.

"We still have to meet graduation standards, so we go through to see where we can cut and still meet those standards," Hudson said. "We can't say, cut five English teachers, because we can't do that (and meet standards).

"We don't have to offer family and consumer science, we don't have to offer vocational agriculture, so those are potential cuts," he said. "We don't have to have an elementary school guidance counselor, but whenever you cut positions you're going to see a change in service level."

These cuts would be the deepest level faced by the board and the district, Hudson said.

"This is under the assumption if the levy does not pass and we have to do additional savings," Hudson said. "We'd be looking at having to save $1.4-million by 2012, and $6.1 by 2014, but those cuts reflect some dramatic alteration in how this district operates."

Because schools are staff intensive, with more than 80 percent of operating costs going to staff salaries, large cuts can be made only by reducing classes offered to students.

"Suppose the numbers were five sections (of a class) and you had 25 students in a section, that's 125 students that could not take a subject, say, technology, or art," Hudson said. "Those are not actual numbers, they just illustrate what it looks like.

"The bottom line is, if you have three art teachers or technology teachers and you cut one, then you can't take as many students so some students are going to lose out."

If the levy does pass, there will still be some cuts to make up for expected losses in state funding. Currently, Hudson's budget anticipates a loss of 11 percent of state funds, but many treasurers are planning on cuts of 20 percent in state funding.

"For example, if you look at a special education position, the cumulative effect of (cutting) that (position) over four years is more than $200,000," Hudson said. "If we lose another 5 percent in state funding, that's $200,000 in our budget."

Hudson said the board is prepared for public comment Monday.

"We anticipate some feedback from the community," Hudson said. "I think it's kind of an important meeting."