The cuts are starting at the top Tuesday night when the Modesto City Schools Board of Education evaluates a plan to save $2.3 million by reducing its administrative ranks.
About 10 to 15 managers could lose their jobs or return to district positions such as teaching or maintenance, depending on who gets shifted where.
"We have a fiduciary responsibility to trim down, initially, the central office," Superintendent Arturo Flores said Friday. "It's somewhat of a task for us, but we have 25 million reasons to do this."
The proposal reflects the pressure on the district to balance its budget by cutting 10 percent of its $250 million spending plan for the next school year.
Tuesday's meeting signals that the board wants public input. Trustees plan to set dates for forums -- one later this month and one in February -- where they can gather opinions from residents and staff.
The district office reorganization has been in the works for a few months and is intended to consolidate jobs and save money.
Administrators peg the savings at $2.3 million, but employee union groups say the number is inflated, arguing that officials are under- estimating some salary costs for new positions.
Still, employee groups were pleased to see reductions in management ranks.
"It's a good thing they're making an effort to cut where kids are, I think, the least affected," said Megan Gowans, executive director of the teachers union.
Nine of the 38 positions up for elimination are vacant. The plan would create eight positions.
The changes call for eliminating four junior high as- sistant principal positions (three of which are vacant) and eight elementary assistant principal positions (one is vacant).
Each school can decide to keep its assistant principal and pay the salary out of the school's budget instead of the district's general fund.
Officials would keep three associate superintendents of curriculum -- the administrative level below Flores. The proposal would eliminate three curriculum directors who report to the associate superintendents.
Nine managers would be demoted under the plan. The group includes supervisors of repairs, electrical, mechanical, grounds and paint. Job duties would change a little and they no longer would evaluate subordinates, but their salary would remain the same.
Without a cut in pay, union leaders say, the changes mainly are artificial so district administrators can claim they have nine fewer managers.
"It's a shell game," said Aaron Castro, president of the classified employees group, the union of which the nine managers would be a part. "It's not enough. It's smoke and mirrors."
Also Tuesday, the board is scheduled to hear a report on Stanislaus County's gang injunction lawsuit, which restricts the movements of suspected gang members in south Modesto.
District Attorney Birgit Fladager is expected to discuss how the injunctions work and to describe the Deep South Side Norteños street gang.
Trustees also will consider naming the Davis High School gym after former Principal Robert Taylor at the suggestion of retired Davis High staff member Don Gonsalves.
Taylor served in the Marines and taught science, math and physical education at Bret Harte High School in Angels Camp and Downey High School in Modesto before becoming assistant principal and principal at Davis. Since retiring in 1982, Taylor has been an active volunteer at The Salvation Army.
Tuesday's meeting will start at 6 p.m. in the district office boardroom, 425 Locust St.,
and is open to the public. To view the agenda, go to mcs.monet.k12.ca.us and click on the "board meetings" tab on the left side of the page.