THERMAL, Calif. -

The Coachella Valley Unified School District entered the current fiscal year with a $7.7 million budget deficit and now it's even deeper in the hole.

On Thursday, the board of education voted on a plan that could bring the district back to the black.

The district needs to make nearly $19 million in spending cuts over a three year span, which means more layoffs could be on the way.

"Our students are important to us," said Jamie Brown, the assistant superintendent of business services. "We believe that they need to have funding based on the needs of our community."

Brown says having to make more cuts breaks her heart.

The board of education voted unanimously to approve the district's fiscal recovery plan for the next three years, which includes the current school year.

The plan is flexible and subject to change.

One aspect of it calls for a reduction in the spending of $5,000 per student.

"Our worst case scenario will be $634 (in cuts) per student," said Brown. " The numbers go as low as $19 per student, all the way up to over $1,000 per student."

The board also voted unanimously to allow the district to notify 157 full-time certificated employees that they could be laid-off at the end of the year.

Kindergarden could go back to half days, and the funding for certain district programs might be shifted to other departments.

"Hopefully if the tax extensions get passed, we won't have to worry about any of this," said Alexis Lanza, the president of the Coachella Valley Teachers Association.

The sales and income tax increases passed in 2008 expire this year.

Californians will vote in June on whether or not to extend those increases.

If so, some positions in education will be saved.

"That's what we're paying right now," said Lanza. "It was intended to get us through the recession, but the recession has not had an upturn like it was anticipated."

Federal stimulus dollars also run out this year, and that's another reason for the cuts.

"We have cut the low hanging fruit," said Brown. " There's nothing left when 90 percent of your budget is people. The only thing left to cut is people."

The district says a final budget plan is due to the board by the end of June.