The Liberty County School System is considering eliminating unpaid furlough days for the next school year.
Roger Reese, the district’s chief financial officer, said increased funding from the state and the district’s previous budget cuts have given the system an opportunity to restore furlough days.
The Georgia Department of Education’s preliminary budget is $21.8 billion, which includes $152 million for enrollment growth and training and experience. Georgia Department of Education spokesman Matt Cardoza said in an email that the governor and Legislature have asked that that money be used to eliminate furlough days.
It will cost the district $1.4 million to restore the four furlough days to all Liberty County school employees, Reese said.
Reese surveyed surrounding counties — Bryan, Bulloch, Chatham, Effingham, Glynn, Long and Tattnall — and found that they are all restoring their furlough days.
“Glynn, Tattnall and Bulloch have the same number (of days) that we have, and they increased theirs to 190 days,” Reese said.
“When I first joined the board and heard about the teacher furlough days, I was just smitten,” board member Carolyn Carter said. “I thought it was too many days, and I’m just elated that we have the prospect of not taking pay from everybody who works in the system to try and pay for things we were not funded for by the state.”
The announcement about furlough days came during the board’s work session Tuesday morning, when Reese presented the projected fiscal-year 2016 budget. The budget projects that the district will receive $97.7 million in revenue and spent $96.7 million, leaving a $1 million fund balance.
“In my six years of being on this board, this is the first and best budget I have seen,” board member Verdell Jones said. “We’re finally going to approve a balanced budget. I am excited about that.”
Chief Information Officer Dr. Patti Crane talked about the school system’s recent collection of iPads from students. Some in the community expressed concern over how students will prepare for upcoming tests without the iPads.
Board member Marcia Anderson asked, “Why are we taking up the high school iPads before testing?”
“We have to prepare them (iPads), so we had to take them up because their testing starts May 4. The last day of collection was the April 23. They need to be prepped, and we need about a week,” Crane answered. “We wanted to make sure we got them all back so we can restore factory settings. We’re basically clearing them off so that when students test, there won’t be any interference.”
Anderson then asked if students need the iPads to prepare for test.
“There is about a week where they do not (have the iPads), but that was the consensus of both high schools,” Crane said. “Also with this being our first year, we didn’t know what we would be looking at once they were collected — from a preparation standpoint. Both high schools felt comfortable with that.”