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Schools are bracing for the San Diego Unified school board’s decision tonight on which programs will be cut. That choice will determine how many pink slips are headed to teachers and classroom aides this month, informing them that their jobs could be slashed. Under California law, schools are required to notify certificated employees whose job may be cut by March 15.

Budget documents from San Diego Unified show between 600 and 1,000 positions at risk, depending on the school board’s choices. Staffers have said that layoffs are inevitable, due to the sheer size of state budget cuts spurred by California’s growing deficit. San Diego Unified is trying to cut nearly $80 million from its 2008-2009 budget.

Yet other school districts have avoided layoffs: To the south of San Diego, Sweetwater Union High School District isn’t sending out pink slips. Nor will Long Beach Unified School District, a large urban district that is frequently compared with San Diego Unified. Instead, those districts said they’re leaving positions vacant and letting staff shrink by attrition.

Check back later tonight for updates on the meeting, and how the school cuts could shake out.

EMILY ALPERT

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