WHAT: The Aiken County Board of Education will host its regular meeting at the district office, 1000 Brookhaven Drive, today at 7 p.m. LAST TIME:At the last meeting Feb. 10, board members approved administrative recommendations to offset an estimated $12 million deficit for 2009-2010 because of state revenue shortfalls. DEJA VU:In 2003, the School Board faced a similar deficit during an economic slowdown that began the year before. The trustees chose to increase the property tax rate for school operations by 15 mills, which raised about $6 million. The School Board no longer has that option after the S.C. General Assembly eliminated school operations property taxes for owner-occupied homes. STUDENT INVOLVEMENT:One proposed budget reduction action has led to at least one student-generated petition and a "Save Our Teachers" Facebook group. The board has informed most retirees who are still on school faculties that they may not be rehired next year. Some students have also expressed concern that the International Baccalaureate program at Aiken High School and North Augusta High School will be eliminated in the fall. SPEAKING OUT:Two high school seniors and one 2008 high school graduate have signed up to address board members during the public participation segment early in the meeting. Other interested persons may sign up before the meeting starts tonight. TOUGH TIMES, TOUGH MEASURES: School Board Chair Dr. Christine Harkins: "We are receptive to hearing what people have to say. (They) just need to know we're having to make some very tough decisions - not decisions we would normally make if we had the money to do the things we have done in the past. But we no longer have that luxury. That's what we've been doing in January and February because we can't wait and do all the planning in June. It's not going to be a pleasant task and will make some people unhappy. But it's not making us happy either." YOUR OPINION?:The School Board will set up a series of budget hearings throughout the County, making presentations on the financial situation and getting feedback at the local level.