Teachers and staff in the Muscogee County School District have not been asked to take unpaid leave — yet.
After spending 30 minutes in a closed session Monday afternoon, the Muscogee County School Board voted to amend the regular school calendar to prepare for possibility of furloughs. Three in-service days were moved from October 23, February 11 and March 15 to December 21, 22 and 23 and will be used if teachers are required to take unpaid leave.
In-service days are work days for teachers, but students are not at school. October 23, February 11 and March 15 will be off days for both students and employees.
The district is waiting for action from the state board of education before making a decision about furloughs at local schools, Superintendent Susan Andrews said. The state board meets at 8 a.m. today to discuss furloughing employees and changing the number of days teachers are required to be at school. Teachers are currently required to be at school 190 days.
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If the state board decides to give employees mandatory time off without pay, a recommendation about furloughs in Muscogee County will come before the local school board at their next meeting in August, Andrews said. The district will also decide how to amend the calendar for the district’s two year-round schools, Rigdon Road Elementary and Georgetown Elementary, at a later date.
School systems across the state are considering furloughs after Gov. Sonny Perdue announced last week he would withhold three days of state funding for salaries — about $2 million for Muscogee County. He requested that each school district furlough employees for three days prior to December 31 to reduce state spending. The state budget has a $900 million shortfall, and tax collections continue to drop.
“These are difficult times for the nation and state,” Andrews said.
Perdue also cut 3 percent from each school system’s QBE earnings and equalization money — the funding each district gets per student. The amount for Muscogee County totals about $4.93 million.
Each district will also have to cut budgets for transportation and school nurses by 5 percent, about $153,900 for Muscogee County.
Andrews said administrators are gathering information on ways to cut the budget.
“We will make those cuts in a rational matter,” she said.
With the reduction in salaries, the cuts to the Muscogee County School District’s $274 million budget total more than $7.2 million.