From Tuesday’s Sentinel:

Teacher furlough days announced
by Winston Jones/Sentinel

Douglas County school teachers will have to take three unpaid furlough days between now and January, the Board of Education (BOE) decided by unanimous vote Monday night.

Meanwhile, School Superintendent Don Remillard warned that additional furlough days could come early next year if state revenues don’t improve.

The furloughs come on the heels of an announcement last week by Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue that the state would cut three days of salary funding from the school districts and called for the furlough days.

The county vote came at a 6:30 p.m. called BOE meeting at the school central office conference room. The meeting was already scheduled for a final public comment and approval of the Fiscal Year 2010 millage rate.

The first furlough date will come next Monday, Aug. 3, a date that had been scheduled for teacher pre-school planning work. The other furlough dates are Oct. 13 and Jan. 4.

“I hate to do this,” Remillard told the board. “I totally regret this had to happen. We just can’t absorb this (cut) without going dangerously into our reserves. There’s a likelihood we could have more after the first of the year. We’ve been notified by the state that it’s likely if revenues don’t improve.”

For employees who work more than 190 days, they will work with their supervisors to select furlough days between July 28 through Jan. 4, Remillard said.

Board member Larry Barnes questioned why the state didn’t do away with the sales tax free holidays instead of furlough days and member Sam Haskell said the state should cut certain tax breaks or raise taxes on wealthy individuals.

Remillard said he is disappointed that the General Assembly didn’t go back into session when they realized there would be a huge revenue shortfall.

“Come January, they’ll have to deal with it,” he said.

Board Chairman Jimmy Bartlett noted that Remillard has been “sounding the warning bell” all spring about coming state cuts and recently when debating the millage rate.

“This board would do well to heed the leadership of Mr. Remillard from this time forward,” Bartlett said.

The board decided to hold the maintenance and operation (M&O) millage rate at the current 18.35 mills rather than roll it up to the amount that would have matched last year’s tax revenues.