Santa Ana May Slash School Sports in Half : Education: Trimming athletics by up to 50% would help make up $5 million in reductions necessitated by the county bankruptcy, a committee says. Music programs could also go; class sizes may increase.

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In a school district already reeling from budget problems, officials Monday unveiled $5 million in possible cuts that would reduce funding for athletics by 50%, eliminate arts programs and increase class sizes.

During a study session, a committee of parents, teachers and administrators also noted another $3 million in reductions that could be achieved through negotiations with employee bargaining groups.

"As you read these, your reaction may be one of horror. It may be one of anger. It may be one of disgust. That's expected because there really is no place to go," said Al Mijares, Santa Ana Unified School District superintendent.

The committee proposed cutting funding for high school and junior high school athletic programs by half, eliminating elementary school music programs and increasing class sizes at high schools and intermediate schools.

The district must cut a total of about $6 million this year and next--$1.7 million for 1994-95 and at least $4.3 million for 1995-96--as a result of losses in revenue because of the county's bankruptcy. The district had $51.8 million tied up in the collapsed county investment pool.

The committee's suggested cuts will be formally considered at the Board of Education's March 14 meeting, Mijares said.

Trustee Audrey Yamagata-Noji voiced anger and frustration over the possible effects of the proposed cuts. She also noted that because the board already has agreed in principle to reinstate the seventh period for intermediate school students at a cost of $2 million, the board actually needs to cut $8 million.

"We shouldn't have to be here talking about cutting any of these things," Yamagata-Noji said. "We have cut over $42 million over the last five years, and there is nothing left to cut."

The district's total 1994-95 budget is $220 million, spokeswoman Lucinda Hundley said.

"Inevitably, all the cuts will affect the kids," said Kathi Jo Brunning, a committee member representing parents. "Some of them are more immediate, like the music and sports programs, the things we'd really like not to be touched. It's all pretty disastrous."

Other school districts struggling with potential budget cuts include Newport-Mesa Unified and Irvine Unified.

Newport-Mesa faces $8.2 million in reductions out of an annual budget of about $86.8 million. District officials there are reviewing the reduction of librarians and nurses through attrition, and the elimination of bus, photo and audiovisual services.

The governing board of the Irvine Unified School District is considering $3 million in cuts that could result in the loss of 120 teachers and numerous instructional aides and librarians in the upcoming school year. The county's crisis has placed about $10 million of the district's money at risk--about 10% of its operating budget.

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