Virginia Gov. L. Douglas Wilder announced cuts in school aid totaling $101.4 million yesterday, nearly a third of them coming from districts in Northern Virginia, which have less than a quarter of the state's school enrollment.

State funding to most Northern Virginia school districts will shrink by 12 percent next year, cuts that local school officials say could force them to increase class sizes, sacrifice teacher raises and forgo new textbooks, new buses and field trips. Most districts in the rest of the state were cut by 1 to 5 percent.

Education Secretary James W. Dyke Jr. said the administration tried to shield poorer districts to avoid widening the disparity between rich and poor schools. At the same time, Dyke said the cuts were limited to 12 percent in part because of the bleak economic picture in Northern Virginia.

"We think this is a balanced approach," he said.

Under the plan, Fairfax County will lose $21.7 million, or about 2.4 percent of its current operating budget; Loudoun County, $2.4 million; Arlington County, $2.3 million; and Alexandria, $1.5 million. Of the area's large school districts, only Prince William County avoided the maximum cut, suffering a 3.7 percent reduction in state aid amounting to $3.5 million.

Yesterday's announcement is part of a process that Wilder initiated to eliminate a $1.9 billion shortfall in the state's current two year budget without raising taxes. He also announced $150 million in cuts to state agencies.

The reductions represent a dramatic retreat after nearly a decade during which burgeoning state revenue enabled Virginia to increase substantially its spending for education. Since the early 1980s, Democratic governors have infused state education programs with hundreds of millions of dollars, hoping to build the strongest schools in the South while attempting to raise teacher salaries to the national average.

With the latest cuts, parents and educators said those goals now seem unattainable.

"It's like being told to fix the turkey and all the trimmings because the company's coming in a few hours and, oh, by the way, the electricity's out," said Jane Strauss, president of the Fairfax County Council of PTAs.

The average teacher salary in Virginia this year is reported to be $32,382, $435 shy of the national average. "This means that definitely we will not reach it and, in fact, we'll move in the opposite direction," said Ralph Shotwell, an official of the Virginia Education Association, which represents 43,000 state teachers.

Even with the latest cuts, Dyke insisted that the Wilder administration considers education a high priority. "The reality is that the magnitude of the fiscal shortfall is such that everything is on the table," he said.

The final effect of the cuts will not be known until local school districts release their budgets for the 1991-92 academic year after Jan. 1. The state cuts come at a time when local governments are strapped for money and unlikely to make up the lost revenue.

Most local school officials were muted in their response yesterday, saying the numbers were close to what they expected, given the state's fiscal crisis.

"It's hard to blame anyone," said Fairfax Superintendent Robert R. Spillane. "I know people will be looking for blame, and certainly the governor in his position will be most culpable for blame. But you have to look at the income and the economy and everything."

Northern Virginia officials reached yesterday did not complain about how the cuts were distributed across the state. Instead, most echoed the sentiment of Loudoun School Board Chairman C. Carroll Laycock Jr., who said, "I hope the state realizes that we can only give so much."

Because 75 to 80 percent of school operating budgets go to employee expenses, the cuts almost guarantee that most local districts will not grant teacher cost-of-living raises this year, officials said.

To cut the number of teachers needed, some school districts may put more students in each class and eliminate low-enrollment elective courses such as Russian, creative writing and film study, officials said. Students may have to use the same textbooks, aging audiovisual equipment and school buses for another year and put up longer with dripping roofs or faulty boilers, officials said.

Much of that is not likely to sit well with parents.

"We already have classes that are too big," Strauss said. "If class sizes creep up again, you're going to find a lot of awfully angry parents."

One impetus for the heavy cuts in Northern Virginia aid has been increasing pressure on the state by a group of Southwest Virginia school superintendents to reduce the wide financial disparity between wealthier districts in the north and poorer ones in the rest of the state.

Richard G. Salmon, a Virginia Tech professor who specializes in education funding formulas, said that pressure forced Wilder and Dyke to make the biggest cuts in the wealthier districts.

"They did what we asked them to do, which is to not make {the disparity} worse," said the coalition's leader, E. Mark Pace, superintendent of Alleghany Highland schools, which were cut by 2.5 percent.

Fairfax County Board Chairman Audrey Moore (D) said she hoped the local General Assembly delegation would be able to restore some of the lost money.

Del. Robert E. Harris (R-Fairfax), a member of the House Appropriations Committee, said the cuts were not so bad as they could have been, and added that local schools "can live with that."

"Going in, we could be in worse shape," he said. "I wish we weren't losing any of it, but the political realities are all of the program areas are going to take a hit."

Educators were not optimistic that the money could be recovered. "I think it's a foregone conclusion, unfortunately," said Prince William Superintendent Edward L. Kelly. "I'm concerned that it's not the end."

......................IN MILLIONS OF DOLLARS......................

School District....Operating.....1990-91.....1991-92.....State Aid

......................Budget...State Aid...State Aid...Amount Lost

Alexandria.............$75.7.......$12.4.......$10.9..........$1.5

Arlington..............114.3........19.3........17.1...........2.3

Falls Church............12.1.........1.5.........1.3...........0.2

Fairfax County.........898.5.......181.1.......159.3..........21.7

Loudoun County.........100.0........19.9........17.5...........2.4

Pr. William County.....231.8........96.2........92.6...........3.5

Manassas................32.8.........8.1.........7.3...........0.8

Manassas Park............7.1.........4.2.........4.1...........0.1

SOURCE: State of Virginia and local school districts