Bibb County schoolteachers and all other employees are facing the possibility of another round of furloughs.
The Bibb County school system proposed up to a five-day workday reduction for all 2,700 employees Thursday, because the system expects another $4 million to $5 million cut in state funds this year. “The goal of the administration is to go in and be proactive at addressing this instead of waiting until the legislative session is over,” said Ron Collier, the school system’s chief financial officer. The school board was hesitant to approve the furloughs though, and agreed to take any action — if it turns out to be necessary — by Jan. 25.
Most of Bibb’s teachers and administrators took three furlough days to trim costs earlier this school year. This round is estimated to save the school system $3.2 million, with one teacher estimated to lose an average $257 per day, according to the system’s proposal.
Central High School principal Jeff Homan said his teachers have been concerned about potential furloughs.
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“They’ve already been furloughed three days, which is significant to a lot of teachers,” Homan said. “Sure (another furlough) hurts. But they understand you can’t run a school system without money.” The proposed furlough plan is as follows:
n High school principals and top administrators at the central office, as well as employees who are contracted 230 days or more, will face five furlough days. They and all other employees won’t be paid for Jan. 8, the day the system closed in case of inclement weather. They will take other days during students’ spring break or after the end of the school year.
n Teachers and others who work 190 to 220 days will take four furlough days. The furlough dates range from Feb. 12, Lincoln’s Birthday, to days in late March and early June.
n School paraprofessionals would take two furlough days.
n Bus drivers, crossing guards and school lunchroom workers would take one day, which will mean not getting paid for Jan. 8 when school was closed. Bus drivers likely would get $66 less in their paycheck at a later date, officials said.
“I understand the board’s need to be cautious,” Superintendent Sharon Patterson said. “I want us to take time to consider the implications concerned about where we will be at year’s end.”
The school system also recommended changing the current school calendar so that May 20 and May 21 will be half-days, to allow teachers to have planning time as a result of the furloughs.
Patterson said she is not in favor of a four-day school week as another way to save money. Peach County already has four-day weeks, and Wilcox County is considering moving to that model.
“My philosophy is not that,” Patterson said. “I have been a proponent of students going to school more days” as students do internationally.
To contact writer Julie Hubbard, call 744-4331.