The Bryan County Board of Education voted Thursday to furlough hundreds of employees for three days in the wake of still more state budget cuts.
The furloughs -- initially announced by Gov. Sonny Perdue earlier this week -- will effect all of the school system’s teachers and administrators. It will also impact officer workers, maintenance workers and others who work at least 181 days.
Only paraprofessionals, nutrition service workers and bus drivers won’t be impacted by the measure, which is just the latest in a series of state cuts that have made it tough for the BoE to come up with a budget for the 2009-2010 school year.
Those who face furloughs will be contacted as soon as possible, though School Board Chairman Eddie Warren said the news likely won’t come as a surprise.
"Most people already know about it, it’s been in the news all week" he said. "Until tonight, they just didn’t know how it would happen in Bryan County."
Still, having to impose furloughs were a first for longtime educators.
"I’ve been in education 41 years," said interim School Superintendent John Oliver, "and to my knowledge we’ve never had anything this significant come to us this late in the school year."
School officials noted Perdue hasn’t the authority to order the furloughs, which will cause employees to lose three days from their state funded pay, but has school systems over the barrel because he cut funding for thesalaries.
"He initially came out late Tuesday and said teachers had to be furloughed three days, but found out he can’t do that, that’s up to local school districts" Oliver said. "Then he said from July 31 to Dec. 31 the state will hold the equivilent of three days pay from staff members."
The move, which was coupled with an additional 3 percent cut in state funding, leaves the school system facing a $1.6 million shortfall, according to Melanie James, Bryan County Schools’ chief financial officer.
James told the BoE its options to plug the hole would be dipping into the system’s approximately $6 million reserve fund, cutting positions or raising the millage rate. And to make matters even cloudier, the BoE has to wait on the tax digest before being certain how much a millage rate hike will increase revenue.
Read mroe of this story in the Bryan County News print edition.