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Days off with no pay cost teachers

Furloughs mean less money, training time

Sunday, Feb. 19, 2012 2:55 PM
Last updated Monday, Feb. 20, 2012 12:58 AM
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After a full day teaching at T. Harry Garrett Ele­mentary School, Kimberly Moore drives across town for her second job.

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Kimberly Moore helps Charles Madison, 8, with his reading during a session at Sunshine Tutoring and Learning Center, the Augusta teacher's second job.  MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
Kimberly Moore helps Charles Madison, 8, with his reading during a session at Sunshine Tutoring and Learning Center, the Augusta teacher's second job.

She spends four evenings a week tutoring students at Sunshine Tutoring and Learning Center, trying to recoup the money she lost from the nine furlough days implemented this school year.

The single mother of two has 16 years’ experience, a master’s degree and passion, but her qualifications don’t exempt her from the state budget crisis that has been passed down to local school districts.

“As a single parent, it was difficult to begin with, but with the furloughs, I had no choice but to get another job,” Moore said. “Paychecks change, but bills don’t change.”

Richmond County implemented nine furlough days this year to help alleviate a $23.6 million state funding cut. The furloughs work out to an average loss of $2,476 for instructors, fewer training days for teachers and less class time for students.

Today is the sixth furlough day this year, with the rest scheduled for Tuesday, March 16 and May 23.

“To me, it feels like they’re just slicing and dicing and not taking into consideration that people have to survive,” Moore said. “We have responsibilities and expenses, and those don’t change. It seems like they ought to do something else.”

Anita Faglier, the director of finance and accounting for the Richmond County school system, said the state has underfunded the district by $100 million since 2003 as economic conditions worsened. During the budget process, the staff has to determine where cuts can be made but realize some actions, such as furloughs, are unavoidable.

“You reach a point to where you have nothing else you can cut,” Faglier said. “With 89 percent of your budget personnel, you have to cut across the board.”

Of the nine furlough days, five originally were professional learning days, which are set aside to provide training for teachers, and four were normal class days.

Though students lose instruction time, the furloughs have been a double hit for teachers because they lose money and miss out on training, said Stacey Mabray, the district’s interim director of curriculum and instruction.

Teachers now have to squeeze in professional learn­ing after school or during planning time, but they lost five full days that would have been dedicated to strategy refinement and technology training.

“That set pack of days to work with teachers when they’re not being pulled away from students is gone,” Mabray said.

“It’s just like a medical doctor who reads medical journals and goes to conferences. You have to spend time honing your profession so you get better.”

In dealing with the budget shortfall, acting Super­in­ten­dent James Whitson said much was done to avoid the cuts. Before turning to furloughs, the district cut back on energy expenses, moved items from the general budget to the federal budget, didn’t purchase new textbooks, cut supply money to schools and even took $10 million from the reserve fund.

“Furloughs are pretty much a last resort,” Whitson said.

As the district prepares to work on the budget for the 2012-13 school year, Josephine Lane, an English/language arts instructor at Gar­rett, said teachers are worried the situation will get worse. She understands the money isn’t there, but the classroom should be un­touch­able because of its effect on students, she said.

“We have students who eat most of their meals at school,” Lane said. “We have a population that may not have dinner at home. We have a student population that needs to be immersed in as much learning as possible, and this takes that away.”

Moore said she sees her students suffer, while personally it hasn’t been any easier. After working two jobs, Moore gets home to pack the next day’s lunches, iron clothes, cook dinner, help her 12-year-old with homework and work with her 2-year-old.

“It would be easier with one job,” Moore said. “I go to work every day and I enjoy what I do, but I have to look at my children because they’re going to have to go to college one day. Will I be able to afford for them to go?”

BY THE NUMBERS

9

Furlough days in 2011-12, including today and Tuesday

$2,476

Average loss for instructors

Comments (18) Add comment
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Just My Opinion
5429
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Just My Opinion 02/19/12 - 05:40 pm
0
0
What will eventually happen

What will eventually happen is when the "good" young college students elect to choose a profession, they will decide that teaching is just not worth it. Face it, there is just too much asked of these people for the money they get...and they keep getting dumped on, whether it be more and more administrative responsibilities or getting money taken out of their pockets! The end result will be a teaching corps that is barely able to pass the standards themselves! There is no way that a teacher should have to take on a second job.

Craig Spinks
817
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Craig Spinks 02/20/12 - 02:13 am
0
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JMO, You're right.

JMO,

You're right.

allhans
23471
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allhans 02/20/12 - 06:07 am
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Are those numbers right? A

Are those numbers right? A teacher will lose $2,476.00 for 9 days?

scoobynews
3824
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scoobynews 02/20/12 - 08:52 am
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allhans that is an "average"

allhans that is an "average" loss for instructors with advanced degrees and years in. A young teacher with just one year experience who lose less but still feel the impact. This is not how we are going to attract the best and brightest into the field by telling society that we can shave off 9 days of instruction which is bad for the teachers but even worse for students who are missing instruction. Our country already has less instructional days than most high performing countries and now we are dumbing it down even more. I have not had as many furloughs as Richmond but I have felt the loss of about half that number and it was a hard year. Word is that it will be worse in the coming school year. It is already pretty bad now with increased paperwork, class sizes, and discipline issues. I can't imagine what 2012 - 2013 will hold for students and teachers.

paraprofessional
45
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paraprofessional 02/20/12 - 09:37 am
0
0
You didn't mention the

You didn't mention the professional learning during the school day when a substitute is in the class either all morning (K to gr 2) or all afternoon (grades 3-5)_and the teachers are in the media center. We have had at least 2 of those days and there were about more than 20 subs in the bldg all day. They take the money away from teachers and paras and pay subs.

crackertroy
540
Points
crackertroy 02/20/12 - 09:45 am
0
0
This is not the whole story.
Unpublished

This is not the whole story. In McDuffie County, they've stopped hiring substitutes so when a teacher has to miss a day, several teachers have to give up their planning period to cover their classes. Teachers will often come to work sick because they don't want to deal with the guilt of having their co-workers have to cover for them.

The school day is longer, the school year is shorter. Electives have been cut to make room for remedial classes. The furlough days barely break the tip of the iceberg.

Good thing Georgia does not have a teachers union. Could you imagine?

avidreader
3069
Points
avidreader 02/20/12 - 09:47 am
0
0
If a teacher makes $50K per

If a teacher makes $50K per year based on a 190 day contract, this breaks down to roughly $2476 per year (for furlough days) when based on 181 days. If a husband and wife both teach, which many do in Richmond County, the fulough amount is quite substantial. As Ms. Moore stated in the article, teacher pay continues its decline while Publix continues to raise its prices.

Mr. Whitson says, "Furloughs are pretty much a last resort." This is somewhat laughable -- what about sports? Our tax money is still funding oodles of sports teams that do not generate income. Of course, no matter what the enonomy is like, SPORTS is the sacred cow.

avidreader
3069
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avidreader 02/20/12 - 09:52 am
0
0
Cracker, I have heard the

Cracker, I have heard the same comment from a friend who works in McDuffie County.

Little Lamb
44848
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Little Lamb 02/20/12 - 10:05 am
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This furlough system is

This furlough system is absurd. The correct thing to do would be to lower the salary by $2,476 and keep the school calendar the same. It's simple and its honest.

crackertroy
540
Points
crackertroy 02/20/12 - 10:12 am
0
0
They get away with it because
Unpublished

They get away with it because many teachers who have taught for 15 or more years cannot find another job (esp. in this economy) making the salary they make with the other benefits of teaching. They have families and bills to pay so they do what they have to do. Some still are looking for other employment.

Little Lamb
44848
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Little Lamb 02/20/12 - 12:00 pm
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From the article: Anita

From the article:

Anita Faglier, the director of finance and accounting for the Richmond County school system, said the state has underfunded the district by $100 million since 2003 as economic conditions worsened.

It really irritates me when these educrats use that word underfunded. Do they ever think in times when the state government is increasing their allocation that they are overfunded? No, these educrats never have enough funding from the state taxpayers nor from the local taxpayers.

You've got the director of accounting and finance sitting in an ivory palace making her underlings keep tabs over how much they've been underfunded since 2003. Is she going to send a bill to the General Assembly trying to recoup some of that $100 million? Good luck with that.

And what is so magical about 2003? Was it the year that Richmond County school system scored highest in the nation on standardized tests across the board? Does it have something to do with shock and awe in Iraq? was it the year that No Child Left Behind got off the ground?

I call on Ms. Faglier to quit crying over spilt milk. Quit ordering your staff to calculate how much milk was spilt. Whatever funding you get from the General Assembly is what you have to spend. Be grateful and spend it wisely. Do not insult us taxpayers by telling us we are underfunding you!

raul
4446
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raul 02/20/12 - 12:30 pm
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@Little Lamb "And what is so

@Little Lamb "And what is so magical about 2003? Was it the year that Richmond County school system scored highest in the nation on standardized tests across the board? You are being facetious, right?

laro247
132
Points
laro247 02/20/12 - 01:29 pm
0
0
If you do the math, that's

If you do the math, that's $275.11 per day. Now multiply that by a normal school year and you are talking an average pay of over $50,000.00 per year. Not including benefits or the fact that this is for actually about ten months of work per year. Not that I mean to disparage teachers but, there's a lot of us in private business that have lost a larger percentage of pay to maintain employment and don't have anywhere near the benefits the teachers enjoy. I can remember when my mother, who was a teacher, actually had to write a check to pay her substitute teacher if she missed a day teaching. Bottom line, yes they are having to take a little cut each year but still enjoying pretty good pay and benefits.

Little Lamb
44848
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Little Lamb 02/20/12 - 02:30 pm
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Good post, Laro. Don't you

Good post, Laro. Don't you think it would be simpler and better for all concerned (administrators, teachers, staff, parents and students) if they just cut the pay scale back by whatever percentage it takes to match the income and keep the school calendar intact? That way, the students would get the full number of contact days, the teachers would get their training, and the parents would have a certain schedule.

eb97
835
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eb97 02/20/12 - 03:45 pm
0
0
You will see more and more

You will see more and more families placing their children in private schools and those that can not afford the private schools will have to put up with more and more days their children will not be in the classroom due to increasing furlourgh days.It is a sad time for education in our fair city.

class1
299
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class1 02/20/12 - 04:04 pm
0
0
Still to much baggage at the

Still to much baggage at the Broad Office and in the schools.

clumber
43
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clumber 02/20/12 - 06:37 pm
0
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Schools waste a bundle of

Schools waste a bundle of money. Eliminating waste and pork will leave plenty of money. Start with the superintendents office and work down.

Respectfully
1
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Respectfully 02/20/12 - 06:41 pm
0
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Laro- that does include

Laro- that does include benefits to be paid within that 50,000! Although I admit that we get pretty decent benefits compared to some, we still have had copays increase to $40 reg. Dr, 150 ER, plus 20% of the bills generated, $50-100 or more for each pescription, 50% of dental out of pocket, forced to sign blank contracts from rcboe or not have your job the next year, work more hours in a day that if calculated would put us past the 180 school days and closer to the days of other jobs. The "avg" loss is including two degrees and many years of teaching to reach. Around one dollar per child per hour is what a person would make at 50,000. All that being said, 2003 also added many positions like instructional specialists and graduation coach's, which we survived without at one point and should be moved back to classrooms in order to pay teachers to do their jobs during a tough economy. When people come into teaching jobs from the military, jail jobs, business, and other areas, saying that they are amazed at how hard it really is to be a dedicated, hard working, teacher to the many spoiled American Children full of attitude and parents that don't care, I know teachers deserve a solid paycheck with not other job distractions. Our students deserve as much of our attention as possible. This is not possible when most teachers are having to worry about how to pay the bills and taking second jobs.

Respectfully
1
Points
Respectfully 02/20/12 - 06:42 pm
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THANK YOU CLUMBER!

THANK YOU CLUMBER!

stupid
0
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stupid 02/21/12 - 02:10 pm
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Little Lamb and Class1 you

Little Lamb and Class1 you got it right!! Anita Faglier does not know what she is talking about underfunded....If they would push out and force the ones down at the board to leave this district there would be so much more money to put back into our pockets instead of taking away!! The people who are at central don't have a clue to what the people do on the front lines of the schools everyday plus majority of them are in "fictitious positions" at central. Don't even get me started on the purchasing department either and how that individual has moved into that position NOW to only cause nothing but chaos with district "printers".

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