Bibb County public school students will be in the classroom four fewer days in the 2010-11 academic year, and teachers will be furloughed eight days to offset state funding shortfalls, the Bibb County school board officially decided Monday.
Students will get out for winter break Dec. 14, two days earlier than usual. And school will end next spring May 17 instead of May 19.
“We’ve been looking in the school district for cuts we had to make and (time) for teacher planning,” said Sylvia McGee, Bibb’s acting superintendent.
The state is allowing school systems to waive the 180-day school calendar rule during the recession, she said.
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Some teachers did not think student half-days, which were used in the recently ended school year, were effective for teacher planning, McGee said.
The board approved revising its upcoming school calendar from 180 days to 176 days in a 4-2 vote. Board members Susan Sipe and Susan Middleton opposed. Tom Hudson and Lynn Farmer were absent from the vote.
Middleton said she wouldn’t vote on any changes that could jeopardize student academics until the school district considered other cost-saving options such as looking at the costs of school athletics.
“I feel like we are at a point where everything has to be out on the table,” Middleton said. “I need to know the cost of athletics in this district.”
In a 5-1 vote, the school board voted to reduce the number of work days for school system employees. Middleton opposed.
Some of the unpaid furlough days for teachers are planning days in late July, as well as in late May and days during winter break.
Bibb County school system central office administrators and high school principals will take up to 12 days of furloughs, and elementary and middle school principals up to 10 furlough days, the board decided Monday.
The school board also voted to close Neel Academy alternative school this fall.
The Neel students will be sent to two new middle school Ombudsmen programs that the district will start in the coming school year. Also Monday, the board approved a new, third Ombudsman site for high school students.
Ombudsman programs are run by an outside agency to provide alternative students educational programs online in a businesslike setting. The program is for students who have been suspended or expelled from their zoned schools, failed core subjects, are unmotivated or are behind academically because of chronic absences.
The system projected to spend $2.2 million for Neel Academy and its current two Ombudsman programs for high school students in the coming school year, said Craig Lockhart, the system’s director of student support services.
The cost to close Neel and serve 690 middle and high school students in five Ombudsman sites would be $1.8 million, he said.
The board voted on a reduction-in-force plan for the 25 Neel Academy staff members, but those employees may be absorbed in other positions if available, school officials said.
The board tabled a proposal Monday to stop busing magnet school students this fall.
The proposal also called for a stop to busing those students on administrative, athletic and hardship transfers. That would affect 725 total students and save the district $500,000 annually. Board members asked for more information and time to discuss the proposal.
To contact writer Julie Hubbard, call 744-4331.