Columbia County school board cuts positions, adds furlough days to save money

The Columbia County school board added furlough days and cut positions Wednesday to save money.

Superintendent Charles Nagle said he is expecting to lose about $6 million in state funding for next school year.

To recoup that, Nagle added five furlough days into next year's calender, which the board approved. By eliminating five days, the system will save about $3 million, he told board members.

Three of those days will be staff development days, while the remaining two are instruction days.

This school year, state officials withheld the funding for six school days, but Columbia County just took away three.

The new calendar includes a week off for Thanksgiving, which was introduced this school year.

Should tax revenue or state funding exceed expectations, furlough days can be eliminated from the calendar, Nagle said.

The board approved eliminating 25 positions, including 12 teaching positions.

The cuts will save about $1.3 million, Deputy Superintendent Sandra Carraway said.

Most of the cuts can be accommodated through attrition, but some teachers likely will be laid off.

At least five positions were in the middle-school Spanish program, which the board decided to phase out Wednesday.

"If you don't cut this, you've got to cut something else," Nagle told school trustees.

The program had been taught to seventh- and eighth-graders, who earned a Spanish I credit.

The program will continue for one more year, so the 455 seventh-graders enrolled in the course can finish the program next year.

The move will save the school system about $350,000 next year and $210,000 the following school year, when middle school Spanish will be gone for good.

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