Columbia County school officials tinkered with the budget Tuesday to allow for two teacher furlough days.
Last month, Gov. Sonny Perdue further cut school budgets by 3 percent and cut the equivalent of three working days of teacher salaries to help make up a $900 million deficit.
Also on Tuesday, state Board of Education officials agreed to waive a requirement that educators work 190 days each school year. The waiver gives school systems the needed flexibility to enact Perdue's plan to save money by asking teachers to take three unpaid days off by the end of the calendar year.
Though school systems are not required to enact the furloughs, state funding for the salary equivalent will nevertheless be denied them.
Columbia County school officials chose to furlough teachers for just two days.
Eliminating three teacher work days equates to about $1.5 million. Superintendent Charles Nagle proposed several methods to make up the additional $500,000 in salaries and about $3 million in state budget cuts, but none were approved by the school board on Tuesday.
While teachers are on furlough, the system also can furlough system-paid employees, which will save about $300,000. Nagle also suggested that he could divert some stimulus funds and other instructional funds to help. He also might need to dip into the system's $26 million reserve.
Already in the past year, the system has lost about $9 million in funding from budget cuts.
The unpaid teacher furlough days are set for Aug. 3 and Nov. 23 -- days when school will not be in session.
Reworking the school calendar to include the furlough days prompted board members to nix the fall break. Initially, school board members had adopted a calendar for the 2009-10 school year that set aside Oct. 22 and 23 as the fall break.
Instead, classes will be held on those days, but pupils will receive the entire week of Thanksgiving off, which Nagle said could save as much as $100,000 in electric bills.
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