Midstate colleges work out plans for furloughs

Officials from colleges across the midstate are in the process of finalizing their plans to implement state-mandated furloughs of employees.

The state Board of Regents is hoping to save about $42 million by furloughing most of the state’s 42,000 employees, but at the same time officials aren’t looking to disrupt class schedules or other services the colleges provide.

The board told midstate colleges to authorize six furlough days — three of them before Dec. 31 — but not to cancel classes, officials with several midstate schools said.

Employees making less than $23,660 won’t be furloughed, officials said. The furloughs will equate to about 2.5 percent of the employee’s pay.

Many midstate schools, including Fort Valley State University, Middle Georgia College and Gordon College, selected mandatory dates for all employees to be furloughed, including Nov. 25, the day before Thanksgiving.

Doing so not only will prove less disruptive to class schedules and services, said W. Michael Stoy, president of Middle Georgia College, but it also will allow the college to save money on other costs, such as utilities, that day.

Some of the larger midstate schools, such as Macon State College, are leaving furlough days up to the employees. John Cole, vice president of institutional advancement, said the college is asking employees to take their three furlough days in two four-hour increments each month from September through November.

The remaining furlough days will be taken in increments between January and June.

Cole said many faculty members probably will take their furlough days on Fridays.

“We’re doing what we (were) told in a way that will have a minimum impact on students first and employees second,” he said.

“Employees are working with their supervisors, so there should be no effect on the class schedule.”

Here’s how the furloughs break down for the other colleges and universities in Middle Georgia:

Ÿ Fort Valley State’s three furlough days before December are Sept. 4, Oct. 25 and Nov. 25, officials said. The furloughs will affect about 650 employees and save an estimated $910,000.

Ÿ Georgia College & State University, which informed employees Monday of how the furloughs would work, announced that its furlough days would be Oct. 12, Nov. 25, Dec. 24, Jan. 4 and March 22. Employees will be allowed to select the sixth furlough day in conjunction with their supervisor. The move, which will affect about 800 staff and faculty workers, will save about $990,000, officials said.

Ÿ Middle Georgia College will mandate Nov. 25 and March 19 as furlough days for the entire college and work with employees on the remaining four days they must take.

Ÿ Gordon College will save about $325,000 and furlough about 200 employees, officials said. Two of the furlough days will be Oct. 14 and Nov. 25, while the third will be up to individual employees. The remaining furloughs will be decided later.

Ÿ Central Georgia Technical College is not part of the Board of Regents system, but it will face furloughs as well as part of the Technical College System of Georgia, officials said. They are getting hit with three furlough days, to be taken Sept. 25, Nov. 25 and Dec. 31, which will affect all programs associated with CGTC.

Only three midstate schools won’t be directly affected by the statewide cuts. Wesleyan College is private and doesn’t receive state funding, as is Mercer University’s undergraduate program. However, Mercer’s School of Medicine does get state funding, spokesman Larry Brumley said.

Brumley said the state has cut about 5 percent of funding in its latest round of cuts. While there aren’t any furloughs announced, he said, open positions at the school are being frozen.

At Georgia Military College, the school only gets about 5 percent of its funding from the state, said Col. Fred Van Horn, GMC’s vice president. Though GMC’s state appropriation has been reduced by about $426,000, it’s not enough to warrant furloughs or a hiring freeze, thanks to increased enrollment at the school, he said.

To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.