FORT VALLEY -- Fort Valley State University faculty and staff are being asked to take at least three furlough days as the school tries to remedy a budget shortfall.
The school is about $900,000 short on its budget for fiscal 2012, said Ronald Stark, the university’s vice president for business and finance.
The school’s total budget is about $65 million, he said.
School officials are trying to handle the shortfall two ways -- budget cuts at the university level and requesting assistance from the state University System Board of Regents.
“We’re trying to take the action here that we can take because we think we should do what we can before asking for assistance from outside,” Stark said.
The school expects to make up about $550,000 in budget cuts, with more than $400,000 of that to come from most of the university’s employees -- more than 800 people -- taking furloughs.
Those who make less than $30,000 annually will take three furlough days, and those who earn higher salaries will take five days, Stark said.
The first furloughs will be held March 15 and 16, during the school’s spring break.
Fort Valley State employees took furloughs during fiscal 2010, as mandated to all institutions in the state university system by the Board of Regents, but Stark couldn’t recall another instance of the school itself having to call for furloughs.
“Fort Valley as a single entity, I’m not sure that we’ve ever done it,” he said.
The budget shortfall can be attributed to a myriad of things that have been accumulating over several years, Stark said, including receiving fewer state funds, over expenditures from university departments and not budgeting for insurance.
Other cuts include deactivating most of the departmental purchase cards, stopping non-essential travel and questioning any purchases thought to be necessary, Stark said.
These measures will be upheld until June 30, the end of the school’s fiscal year.
Stark said the news of furloughs, decided two weeks ago, has brought mixed feelings around the campus.
“Some people recognize the need, but nobody’s happy about it,” he said. “There are some people that think it’s an undue burden on our employees, but it’s something we have to do.”
To contact writer Caryn Grant, call 256-9751.