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Gainesville City Schools board restores two more furlough days
Days on unpaid leave now cut in half
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Gainesville City Schools employees will gain back some pay as the City Board of Education voted Monday night to restore two more furlough days.

“On behalf of staff and faculty, thank you very much for working so hard to do this,” Superintendent Merrianne Dyer told the board.

The furloughs had been planned for March 18 and May 22.

The school system had planned March 19 as a staff development day, but now will hold that on March 18. So students who had expected to be out of school March 18-19 now will only be out of school on March 18.

And with May 22, teachers and staff pick up a day of post-planning. The last day of school is May 17.

The school system started the 2012-13 fiscal year with 10 furlough days, as a way to try to ease financial conditions, pressures that have existed for Gainesville and other districts throughout the nation’s economic downturn.

Then, in September, the school board restored three of the days — Dec. 20-21 and May 21.

“We need to get our students back in the classroom the full number of days and we need to get our teachers back on full salary,” said Delores Diaz, board member, at the time.

“We can’t continue to operate with such a skeleton crew, as we have been,” she said.

Each furlough day restored will cost the system about $200,000, said Janet Allison, the system’s chief financial officer.

In other business, the school system is considering three calendars for the 2013-14 school year, all hinging on the completion of Fair Street International Baccalaureate World School.

The school year could begin either Aug. 12 or 15, according to the proposed calendars. All the calendars propose ending the year on May 23.

Also, the calendars don’t factor in any furlough days at this point, although board member David Syfan said the system should expect the state to impose five days.

“I would anticipate us having to do the same thing we did this year — start off with a lot of (furlough days), then see how we come out (with the budget),” Dyer said.

Before the recession, the school board traditionally approved the next year’s calendar in January or February, the superintendent said.

But now with uncertainty over budgets and state funding, Gainesville and other school systems are waiting longer and longer before giving their OK, Dyer said.

“I prefer later to let us get a better read from the legislature,” school board member Sammy Smith said.

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