FREMONT — Hoping to help the school district stave off fiscal insolvency, Fremont Unified's three assistant superintendents have volunteered to take a 5 percent pay cut next year.

The announcement came during Wednesday's school board meeting, the same evening that trustees discussed the impacts of increased elementary class sizes and decided that early retirement packages would not save the district money.

Last month, the school board approved $32.8 million in preliminary budget reductions, but some of the cuts are prohibited by employee contracts unless they are renegotiated by the unions. Discussions have taken place between representatives for the district and the teachers union, but so far, no employee group has agreed to a salary reduction.

Over the past few months, trustees repeatedly have urged senior district administrators to lead by example and at times have criticized administrators for not making more cuts at the district office.

This week, the assistant superintendents — Parvin Ahmadi, Steve Betando and Bill Stephens — answered the call to do more.

"We want these dark budget years to end. However, we must be prepared to personally and professionally dig deeper for the unknown economic future of public education and our children's futures. We look forward to working with everyone to defend the value of what our district does through the most difficult budget challenges," they said in a joint statement.

But pay cuts alone won't balance the budget.

In anticipation that elementary class sizes may increase next year, school board members this week discussed whether to increase enrollment at some schools. In the end, they decided to leave some classrooms empty at larger campuses so that there would be space to return to a 20-to-1 staffing ratio should funding become available.

Trustees also put to rest questions about whether the district should offer early retirement packages as an alternative to layoffs — a proposal made by all four of the district's employee groups.

The board shot down the idea this week after several discussions over the past two months, and in light of a consulting firm's contention that the plan wouldn't help the district save money.

Contact Linh Tat at 510-353-7010. Follow her at Twitter.com/Linh_Tat.