Manassas School Superintendent James Upperman has proposed cutting 30 staff positions from the 1991-92 budget as a way to limit school spending in the wake of a decrease in state aid and sales tax revenue.

The cuts were a part of a $31.8 million operating budget that Upperman proposed last week for the next school year, a $400,000 increase over this year's budget. The increase, 1.2 percent, is the smallest in the budget since the school system was established 13 years ago.

It is also the first time that positions and services have had to be cut, according to Upperman. In recent years, double-digit increases in the budget have been the norm.

Although the school system will receive a slight increase in federal funds (about $40,000), city schools will suffer state cuts of more than $1.3 million. Federal funds account for less than 2 percent of the total operating budget, while state aid constitutes almost 17 percent and sales tax revenue about 11 percent.

The 4.6 percent staff cuts would include reduced contracts for assistant principals and the loss of 9.5 instructional and 12 support positions and a department head. The budget is based on the projected enrollment of 4,950 students, 102 more than this year.

The proposal includes a step increase and a 1.5 percent cost-of-living raise for all school employees beginning July 1.

"I am hoping that in terms of actual personnel loss that no one loses a job," Upperman said. He added that employees whose jobs are eliminated will be able to move into positions opened through attrition.

Non-mandated programs, field trips and transportation for junior and senior high school activities also will be affected by the cuts. Some textbook purchases may be delayed.

"We purposely made fewer reductions in instructional services and more in administrative and support services" to have the least possible effect on students, Upperman said.

The budget highlights will include implementation of programs to address success rates in kindergarten through third grades, expansion of library services and electronic classrooms and professional growth opportunities for employees.

Salaries and benefits make up about 71 percent, or $22.6 million, of the budget. With its current 644 positions, the School Board is the third largest employer in the city.

The School Board will hold public hearings on the proposed budget Feb. 12 and 26. Work sessions will be held through March 8. The board is expected to approve a budget at its regular meeting on March 12 and forward it to the City Council by April 1 for consideration as part of the entire city budget.