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Jackson County schools add 3 furlough days
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 JEFFERSON — The Jackson County School System is implementing a second wave of furlough days for teachers, administrators and other staff members in 2010, according to a systemwide memo sent Thursday.

The move comes after Gov. Sonny Perdue called for three furlough days between now and the end of the 2009-10 school year in his budget proposals for the rest of 2010 and fiscal year 2011, which begins in July.

"We were resigned that it was coming, so it wasn’t as big of a shock," said Superintendent Shannon Adams about the furlough days. "But it’s really unfortunate, and to some degree, being in the profession I’m in, at some point don’t you have to say ‘no more cuts to education?’"

Furlough days for instructional staff — teachers, counselors, media specialists, technology specialists, Pre-K resource coordinators, nurses and paraprofessionals — will be set for March 12, April 1 and May 28, pending county board of education approval.

All three dates were previously designated as planning days. Now teachers have May 27 as the lone planning day for the rest of the year.

"I recognize that this set of circumstances will create some difficulties and challenges as schools attempt to close out this year and plan for 2010-2011. Unfortunately, there were very few viable options available," Adams wrote in the memo.

Other staff members, with the exception of 12-month certified personnel, will apply for their furlough days through a computer system called AESOP and must receive supervisor approval for them. This applies to clerical staff, maintenance, food service, transportation, custodial, central registration, technology support and administrators.

The 12-month certified personnel will have two furlough days between now and the end of the school year, bringing their total furlough days for 2009-10 to seven, the memo notes.

The furlough day schedule could change should the system experience inclement weather. Any days that school is canceled due to weather conditions will be switched to furlough days, which would give teachers their planning time back.

"I never would have thought I’d ask for bad weather, but maybe we should," Adams said jokingly.

The loss of pay will be distributed through the 12-month pay period to dilute the financial impact.

The silver lining to the situation may be found in the furlough days’ impact on the school system’s deficit. Assistant Superintendent Jeff Sanchez said in December that the payroll savings from the system’s reduction-in-force plan last year already has eliminated about 65 percent of the $908,000 deficit he initially reported in July.

Adams said the three furlough days for the remainder of the school year may help ease the deficit incrementally.

"We’ll save a little bit of money on benefits on those three days for our employees," he said.

For more information on the state budget plans for 2010 and 2011, visit the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget’s Web site at www.opb.state.ga.us and click on the "FY2011 and AFY2010 Governor’s Budget Reports" link.

Staff writer Ashley Fielding contributed to this report.

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