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Furlough dates recommended

ALBANY -- Implementing the latest round of state-mandated furloughs without impacting classroom instruction time won't be easy for the Dougherty County School System.

After taking three furlough days in the fall, Superintendent Sally Whatley said in a letter released to the Board of Education at Monday morning's finance committee meeting that March 12, May 24-25 are the only remaining professional leave days left in the 2009-10 school year. Whatley couldn't attend the meeting because of illness.

"(It is) with deep regret that the Board approve three designated furlough days for all employees who work a minimum of 190 days," Whatley stated in her letter.

Whatley recommended the half-day early-release dates for parent conferences on Feb. 18-19 and the professional leave days of March 12 and May 25. May 24 is the only remaining professional leave day available now, Whatley stated.

Executive Director of Operations and Business Services Robert Lloyd told the finance committee comprising Board Chairman David Maschke and members the Rev. James Bush and Anita Williams-Brown that the half-day parent conferences will be made on different days either before or after school.

The finance committee voted unanimously to recommend the school system's dates for the three requested furlough days. The full board will vote on the dates at noon Wednesday during the board's mid-month meeting at Monroe Comprehensive High School. Lloyd said the three furlough days will equal about $980,000.

Lloyd said the Dougherty County School System also will have to absorb an additional cut from state as part of the Amended Fiscal Year 2010 budget released on Jan. 15. The Quality Basic Education program was reduced $84 million, Georgia Department of Education Communication Director Matt Cardoza said.

Lloyd said the QBE cut will cost the system about 1 percent -- a loss of $600,000 for a total of about a $1.6 million cut. However, he said the $1.6 million will be covered by the systemwide furloughs and savings from other line items.

Perdue said the three additional furloughs represent about 2,000 teacher jobs being saved. Based on current figures, Perdue said furloughs are not factored into the FY 2011 budget.

The finance committee also heard an approximately 90-minute presentation by Florida's Alvin B. Jackson Jr. of Boynton Beach, Fla., on making its bid process more open to small and local businesses. The CEO of The Quantum Leadership Group suggested being more specific in its policy requirements and taking out the race and gender aspect.

However, Maschke questioned Jackson on his analysis being applicable in Georgia since the Georgia Board of Education requires construction projects to be awarded on the low-bid qualifying bidder. Jackson was referred to school officials by Williams-Brown.

Before the meeting, Williams-Brown told Maschke that she would like the board to discuss and explore a four-day school week at the next mid-month board meeting, which is Feb. 24.