ELBERTON, Ga. -- Elbert County schools will go to a four-day week in the 2011-12 school year.
The Elbert County Board of Education this week approved the dramatic schedule change as part of a budget-cutting plan.
Under the new schedule, students will attend school Tuesdays through Fridays, though the board added an hour to each school day to help fulfill state school attendance requirements.
The Elbert County School District will become the seventh school system in the state to set up four-day school weeks to save money. The system's 2011-12 school year will include 146 days.
The board adopted a four-day week and several other cost-cutting measures to help offset a $4.8 million budget shortfall, schools Superintendent Abe Plummer said Friday.
"There have been a lot of austerity cuts from the state; we lost funding from (the federal Quality of Education Act allowance), and we've seen a decline in local revenue, among other budget reductions," Plummer said. "We've been able for three years to cover these types of things by attrition, but that was not going to be the way to resolve them this year - we had to go with this and (cutting) personnel."
The board eliminated 25 jobs in the district, a 4 percent cut in a system that employs 600 people, including bus drivers, Plummer said.
The board also added 10 unpaid furlough days to the school calendar to save about $900,000.
The shorter school week will save the school system $476,000, Plummer said.
In addition, 14 teachers took advantage of an early retirement incentive package for a savings of $676,000. The school system also saved $575,000 by eliminating local supplements to teacher salaries.
The remainder of the $4.8 million shortfall will be made up through other cuts, including attrition - not filling positions when employees leave - and possibly by other teachers opting for the early retirement incentives, Plummer said.
Reaction to the changes have been mixed, Plummer said.
The Elbert County School District used Peach County in Southeast Georgia as a model for its four-day school week plan, Plummer said. Peach County school system officials said they noticed improvements in attendance from students as well as teachers under the four-day school week plan, he said.
As to what parents will do for child care on Mondays when there is no school, Plummer said he had "no solutions for that issue.
"I'm sure we'll be hearing more about that," he said.