PERRY — The Houston County Board of Education unanimously agreed Tuesday to add back two workdays to the school calendar that were previously designated as furlough days, thanks to an influx of federal funds.
Employees now will be able to use Oct. 12 and Feb. 21, 2011, as professional learning days, from a motion approved at the meeting.
Those days were previously designated as furlough, or work calendar adjustment, days when the board approved work calendar adjustments of two to eight days for employees in May.
“It’s a benefit to the school system adding in professional learning opportunities (with what) the budget cuts hit us with,” board chairman Tom Walmer said.
Employees will not be penalized if they had already made plans that would conflict with the professional learning days.
The change was made possible through about $5 million from the federal Education Jobs Funds approved in August by President Barack Obama.
The added workdays will affect employees who work 184 to 242 days per year and will cost about $1.7 million.
The federal money is intended to partially fund teacher salaries in September and October.
State and local funds designated for that purpose can be used in other areas.
The change will not affect students, who will remain on a 178-day calendar.
Also at the meeting, Donald Crosby, pastor of God’s Kingdom Builders Church of Jesus Christ, addressed the board on his concerns about the Warner Robins High School Demon mascot.
Crosby, a vocal opponent of the mascot, argued that under federal guidelines, no religious deity should be used as a mascot and that some religions and cults might consider a demon a deity.
Also, though the mascot has military ties, it still would be damaging to the students by encouraging them to identify as a Demon, he said.
“It’s not fair for students to become a Demon for their life and embrace Demon pride,” he said.
To contact writer Andrea Castillo, call 256-9751.