The day of reckoning has been delayed for the Irvine Unified School District, with the postponement until March of a school board vote on $3 million in proposed budget cuts.
Trustees had planned to decide on budget cuts and layoffs at their Wednesday night meeting, to give administrators four weeks' planning time before the legally required March 15 notice date. But teachers union officials agreed to an extension of the layoff notice deadline to April 15 for next school year.
The delay gives district budget planners and school board members additional time to scrutinize the county recovery plan. The district is projecting a potential loss of $10.5 million from $105 million in the county pool. But district officials say they believe the loss can be financed over several years to lessen its impact.
School board President Tom Burnham said a decision on most budget cuts, including layoffs, will probably come at the March 21 board meeting.
An overflow crowd of about 300 community members and employees jammed last week's school board meeting to lobby for favorite programs. After hours of public testimony, school board members agreed to protect arts, athletics, science and math programs. But they also agreed to cut about $3 million from the next school year's $100-million budget, which could cause layoffs of as many as 120 teachers.
"We're still about $1 million short," Burnham said. "But the board is not going to attempt to balance the budget based on those (protected) programs being in jeopardy or by increasing class sizes."