As expected, the Muscogee County School Board voted Monday night to cut the number of furlough days from five to three for teachers and other school district employees.
Being added back to the fiscal year 2013 calendar for teachers are one instructional day and one in-service day.
The 9-0 vote came at a board meeting in the Muscogee County Public Education Center.
This change restores the number of instructional days for students to 180.
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The change does not increase the budget, and there is no extra cost.
Interim School Superintendent John Phillips Jr. was ill and not present at Monday’s meeting. He explained at a work session last week that money was found by cutting some programs out of the budget and also by not filling some open positions. There also were some unexpected retirements.Board member Mark Cantrell said he was “tickled to death” that the board was able to restore the day and that it should be a morale booster. “Teachers need to be in the classroom,” he said.In other business:
The board passed by an 8-1 vote a resolution that “strongly opposes” Constitutional Amendment H.R. 1162, which board chairwoman Cathy Williams said would enable a state commission to override the decisions of local school boards and redirect tax funds to a private charter school.
Georgia citizens will vote on the amendment in November. With the resolution, the board requests voters to vote no.
State School Superintendent John Barge has already spoken out against the amendment. “This is not a light issue,” Williams said. “It is a very serious issue.”
Board member Pat Hugley Green said it would be a “tragedy” for the amendment to pass.
Board member Naomi Buckner said the school district “can’t afford any more fund reductions.” The Muscogee County School District thinks the state-authorized charter schools would result in reduced funding for local public schools.
The lone no vote came from board member Beth Harris who said she sees “no threat” to the local school district by the amendment.
The resolution, that will be sent to the governor and members of the Legislature, says the school district supports public charters as long as they are supported by specifically allocated public funds in amounts that do not exceed and do not divert funding from non-charter public schools.
It says the school district has major concerns with the impact the amendment will have on more than 31,000 public school students in Columbus.
It believes this constitutional amendment will create a favored class of student who will receive more state funds based solely on the school a student attends and not on a student’s needs. Students who attend a state-commissioned charter school could receive more funds from the state than the same student would earn attending a traditional public school, a conversion charter school or a locally authorized charter school.
Jennie Shelhorse was appointed as the new budget director for the school district. Recommended by Phillips, Shelhorse is currently finance officer for the Harris County Board of Commissioners, a position she had held since 2001. She replaces the retiring Julie Westmoreland.
The board awarded a contract to Stahl Engineering for a comprehensive structural review at Spencer High School. The school has several foundation problems caused by the poor soil on which it was built in 1978.
The board approved rehabilitation of a storm sewer at Kinnett Stadium. A water pipe that is 1,000 feet long and runs north to south under the football field has deteriorated.