Changes to next year’s school calendar mean fewer school days for students and thousands of dollars less in teachers’ paychecks.
A new calendar for 2010-11 approved at an April Muscogee County School Board meeting has five fewer days for students and 10 fewer work days for employees.
For employees, the changes mean taking a pay cut of just over 5 percent — about $2,000 for a first-year teacher with a bachelor’s degree and more than $3,500 for a teacher with 20 years experience and an educational specialist’s degree.The changes were made to help cope with an anticipated $18 million cut to the budget for the 2011 fiscal year. Changing the calendar will save the district about $10 million.
Traditional school calendar
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According to the revised calendar, teachers would report to campuses two days later, on Aug. 4. School would start on Aug. 9, instead of Aug. 5.
The in-service days scheduled for Oct. 22, Feb. 17, March 18 and April 29 would be canceled. Teachers and students would not have classes on Oct. 25. In-service days are days when teachers report to work, but students do not have classes.
The in-service day scheduled for Jan. 3 would be moved to Jan. 4, and classes for the spring semester would start one day later on Jan. 5.
Schools would also be closed on March 14, but this day could become an in-service day if the funds become available.School would end five days earlier, on May 20. Teachers would only have one day of post-planning, on May 23, though May 24 could be designated as an in-service day if funds become available.
Year-round school calendar
There were also changes to the calendars for the county’s two year-round elementary schools, Rigdon Road and Georgetown. They would start their school year three days later, on July 15. The in-service days scheduled for Aug. 2, Oct. 22 and Dec. 17 would be canceled and schools would be closed those days. The in-service days scheduled for March 18 and May 27 would be canceled and schools would be closed on March 14 and May 31. Classes would end two days earlier, on June 8.The district anticipates being able to return to a 180-day calendar for students and a 190-day calendar for teachers during the 2011-12 school year.
Pay cuts, other reductions
For a first-year teacher with a bachelor’s degree, 10 fewer work days means a pay cut of $1,911. For a teacher with 10 years experience and a master’s degree, the pay cut would amount to about $2,710. For a teacher with 20 years experience and a specialist’s degree, the pay cut will amount to about $3,530.
For a high school principal with a master’s degree, the pay cut will amount to about $2,699. For the superintendent, the pay cut would be about $7,083.
Looking ahead to 2011
The district is also preparing for a possible $18 million cut to the budget for the 2011 fiscal year.Superintendent Susan Andrews sent out a letter to all employees addressing the budget crisis and listing possible ways to save, including the calendar changes.
Other recommendations for the 2011 fiscal year, which begins July 1, include:
• Reducing positions through a hiring freeze and attrition, saving the district about $2.5 million
• Delaying textbook adoption, budgeting for textbook replacements and moving to the use of more digital content, saving the district about $1.5 million
• Eliminating paraprofessionals who have not earned highly qualified certification and assigning one paraprofessional to every two first-grade classrooms. This would save the district about $450,000.
• Eliminating use of a year-round school calendar at Ridgon Road Elementary, Georgetown Elementary and the Woodall Center was considered, but after several parents called and complained, this proposal was taken off the table.
• Eliminating the Evening School program, saving the district about $400,000. Students would complete credit recovery at their individual high schools.
• Consolidating students at Benning Hills with Muscogee elementary schools. Because of retirements and transfers, no one would lose a job and it would save the district about $374,000.
• With the closing of Benning Hills, move all student programs from Academic Success Center to the Benning Hills campus due to the infrastructure expenses of continuing to maintain Academic Success Center.
• Changing the school start times to better tier the transportation system and reduce the number of school bus drivers needed by 15 to 20 drivers. According to the proposed changes, elementary students would start school at 8 a.m. and get out at 2:30 p.m.; middle school students would start at 9 a.m. and get out at 4:20 p.m. and high school students would start at 8:25 a.m. and get out at 3:25 p.m.
• These reductions would save the district about $15.8 million. The district would use about $13 million out of its fund balance to balance the budget.