Bibb County schools' central office staff spending spring break furloughed this year

The Bibb County school board office isn’t hustling and bustling this week like most years during spring break, when students are off but most administrators are on the job.

That’s because more than 200 central office workers are taking their mandated furloughs, which will help save the district more than $266,000 in salary and benefits this week alone.

“I’ve been with the district five years, and until this year the central office was always open for spring break,” said David Gowan, the school system’s director of risk management. “It’s pretty much desolate, really shut down.”

Gowan and about 270 school system employees who work 244 contract days are taking their unpaid leave this week so it won’t impact student learning.

Those employees now on unpaid vacation include deputy superintendents, assistant superintendents, district directors, human resources workers, campus police, maintenance personnel, school bus transportation workers, and technology staffers, among others.

System directors such as Gowan, who earn between $75,000 and $103,000 annually, will lose an average of $1,925 from the five-day furlough. But the cuts will be taken out of four paychecks.

“We spread it out over four months to make it easier,” said Chris Floore, the system’s spokesman, who’s also on unpaid leave this week.

But both men said the week off work isn’t going to waste.

“Personally, I’m spending a lot of time on my volunteer efforts,” Gowan said of being a scoutmaster with Boy Scouts of America Troop 170. He’s spending the week taking an advanced leadership course as a scoutmaster, as well as spending time with family. Floore was driving back from a minivacation to Florida on Tuesday, and later this week he is “spending time with the dog, picking up around the house and getting things accomplished personally.”

Anticipating a $1.4 million state cut this spring, school system officials announced in February that they needed to shave between $800,000 and $900,000 from this year’s spending plan in order to end the school year with about $9 million in the general fund reserve.

In total, 556 employees are taking unpaid leave this year to save the system a total of about $811,000. Other personnel mandated to take a reduction in work days are athletic directors, principals, school social workers, counselors and others, who will take their week of unpaid leave in June after students are dismissed for the school year.