Richmond County to furlough teachers Feb. 15

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The Richmond County school system is digging into the wallets of its employees -- again -- to get itself out of a $7.2 million financial hole.

Superintendent Dana Bedden announced plans Tuesday to offset the deficit by furloughing all employees one day. The action is a result of plummeting state revenues and a school board decision not to raise property taxes.

The furlough day is on top of four days of pay already taken from teachers and four furlough days given other employees. Teachers won't report to work Feb. 15, designated as a professional development day. To compensate for the other days, teachers will be allowed to work 15 minutes less each day.

"Many of them will continue to work beyond the call of duty, and I applaud them for that," Dr. Bedden said.

Last week Gov. Sonny Perdue detailed plans to balance the state's budget in the wake of a projected $900 million shortfall. He announced he would withhold 3 percent from the state's education funding formula and the equivalent of three furlough days for all state-funded school employees.

Other measures planned to offset the Richmond County shortfall include: Selling the old Hornsby and Sue Reynolds elementary schools; increasing class size for early intervention programs; and pulling $4.4 million from reserves.

Taking money from the reserve fund leaves it dangerously low, Dr. Bedden said. It will be less than a month's payroll. School lunch prices could also rise again, he said.

Dr. Bedden said the cuts will directly affect instruction and employees, but it's his top concern to limit the effect as much as he can.

He has avoided layoffs through the latest round of cuts, saying it's crucial for the economy to come out of a recession. The system's 5,000 employees need to keep working, earning paychecks and contributing to the economy, he has said.

Since becoming superintendent less than two years ago, he has cut $60 million from the budget. Since last year, the budget has been reduced 12 percent, or $32 million.

"I want to make no mistake. This will hurt," Dr. Bedden said.

On Tuesday, the Georgia Board of Education waived its requirement that teachers work 190 days. The move allows school systems the flexibility to furlough teachers up to 10 days but doesn't reduce the 180 instructional days.

State Attorney General Thurbert Baker's office is reviewing how furloughs affect teachers' retirement, spokesman Russ Willard said.

Dr. Bedden said the county will continue to allow employees the option of receiving their full pay and writing a check back to the school system in the amount of their pay cut. That will ensure that their retirement isn't harmed by the cuts.

Reach Greg Gelpi at (706) 828-3851 or greg.gelpi@augustachronicle.com.

WANT TO HELP?

Richmond County schools Superintendent Dana Bedden said it's time for the community to come together and stop assigning blame. He encouraged residents to get involved.

VOLUNTEER: Call the school system's professional learning department at (706) 826-1000.

CONTRIBUTE: Call Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce at (706) 821-1300 and ask about the education foundation.

READ MORE

Columbia County teachers to be furloughed

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cravexxx
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cravexxx 07/29/09 - 06:53 pm
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Why is it that home owners

Why is it that home owners are the only ones that pay school taxes. I lived in an apartment for 15 years and never paid a dime. I bought a house and started paying school taxes without having any kids. I think everyone, homeowners and or renters should pay the tax. there would be more than enough if renters paid their share. I have friends with 4 or 5 kids that rent and don't pay but their kids go to school in Richmond county. If I'm wrong please explain it to me. YOU LIVE IN THE COUNTY why not pay

happy
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happy 07/29/09 - 07:31 pm
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Ah Crave that is why we need

Ah Crave that is why we need the FAIR TAX ..then everyone pays !

AUGUSTACS
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AUGUSTACS 07/29/09 - 09:56 pm
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I am very disappointed to see

I am very disappointed to see that Education for are students is still not a priority in Georgia. It seems the Governor, Senators, Congressman, Someone in Charge, of this state would fight to ensure no money is taking for the education of our future, the children. The Teachers do not deserve to work for free or be required to take furlough days, they are already underpaid. DOES ANYONE REALLY CARE ABOUT OUR KIDS? What can we do as Parents to prevent more and more to be taken from our children’s education? This is exactly why everyone is LEAVING RICHMOND COUNTY SCHOOLS!!! Teachers I admire you!!

peace4784
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peace4784 07/29/09 - 10:48 pm
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Cravexxx. You do pay tax when
Unpublished

Cravexxx. You do pay tax when you pay your rent. The landlord pays the taxes from the proceeds of the rent payment.

wonderwhygib
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wonderwhygib 07/29/09 - 10:55 pm
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I hear tribunal panel members

I hear tribunal panel members make $100 a day. Three members = $300 a day. I dont know how many tribunal days that they have a week, but I would say if they have one a week..36 weeks = $10800. No to mention piling on the Attorney fees for every hour. As I said bring in active administrators (principals, assistant principals to hear cases), they are already being paid. They call them in for meetings anyway. And you can use these administrator from many different school. $10800+ may not seem much, but I am sure there are other places they could cut (other than the class room) if they get down to the nitty gritty.

LadyCisback
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LadyCisback 07/30/09 - 04:21 am
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The way to fix this is to

The way to fix this is to bring tourism to Augusta, GA.. this place has so much potential.. and I am not talking about the weak attractions such as the museums or the riverwalk.. I am talking big things such as a theme park and waterpark... that will bring money to the economy..

concernednative
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concernednative 07/30/09 - 07:09 am
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Lady, good luck getting them

Lady, good luck getting them to do that. If they would have completed the riverwalk area and made it nice it would have worked. People always flock to water.

scooter32
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scooter32 07/30/09 - 08:20 am
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Dr. Bedden is not trying to

Dr. Bedden is not trying to find a way to REALLY save money! He's cutting the teachers and the lower paid workers pay, but look at all of those making top dollars down at the central office. He's robbing Peter to pay Paul! Someone needs to do an investigation into the central office employees pay! I wonder do most of those employees really meet the qualifications and have the degrees that allows them to be paid at such high salary they are being paid? i remember when the city of Augusta did a background check on it's employees years ago. There was one person that had a third grade education making a large amount of money. A couple of others had only sixth and seventh grade educations holding down jobs that paid a large sum of money. I am willing to bet there are some people in the central office in the same situation! the question is WHO WILL BE BRAVE ENOUGH TO GO AND CHECK INTO THIS! Alot of people were given jobs by Dr. Larke. He didn't care if they did or didn't meet the qualifications. He just put them in a spot. Instead of cutting back on the teachers pay and increasing the classroom sizes is only going to make the teachers work less and behavior problems will increase

scooter32
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scooter32 07/30/09 - 08:27 am
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continued....... greatly and

continued....... greatly and the test scores will drop dramatically! Dr. Bedden think the percentage of schools that made AYP was bad this year, let's see what next year brings. I BET IT WON'T LOOK AS GOOD! The teachers don't have the support of most parents . But as soon as lil johnny get into trouble at school, the parents wants to come to the school and act up! Dr. Bedden needs to realize that he cut anymore salaries, all of the lower paid workers can qualify for food stamps. The salary of a parapro is already at the qualification point to be eligible for food stamps.

happy
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happy 07/30/09 - 10:35 am
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I looked at the central

I looked at the central office pay and it is ridiculous ! Too many coordinators etc ! Columbia County does not have all of those positions and I realize they are smaller but go look at some of the salaries ...I still say 15 min less a day is a joke and wonder if it is legal ..no other county is doing it that way ..I wouldnt mind it so much if I had a day off !

Just the Facts Please
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Just the Facts Please 07/30/09 - 03:21 pm
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It is Time for the teachers

It is Time for the teachers to stand up and stop being pushed around! Where are the teamsters? Ohhhhh that's right teachers cannot strike in Georgia.....Wake up colleagues...It is past time to act! We need collective action!

Whatthetruth
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Whatthetruth 07/30/09 - 03:48 pm
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Atlanta Federation of

Atlanta Federation of Teachers
4 Executive Park East NE # 120
Atlanta, GA 30329-2212
(404) 728-9500

Whatthetruth
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Whatthetruth 07/30/09 - 04:00 pm
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What is the RCBOE

What is the RCBOE representatives position on this (15 minutes off each day) I have not heard one opinion from a board member who is supposed to be representing the people. Has this been voted on by the board and approved? I don't think that Bedden has the authority to make this decision without board approval and for that matter, I don't think the board can change the local supplements of teachers before taking it to a vote of the people... Additionally, from what I understand, 4 days will be taken out of the local supplement and 1 day (2/15/10) taken out of the state funds. Is this correct? If so, local representatives, should be involved in the decision making. It's time for teachers to call their board representatives, legislative representatives and local GAE and PAGE offices. If you keep accepting and eating rotten apples, and being grateful for those rotten apples, then soon you will eat anything rotten and be grateful for the privileged. I would like to know each board member point of view and how they have voted on this matter. I think that is important information for the voters to know as well as the teachers. It is time to research what is legal and not legal! Find out

lifelongresidient
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lifelongresidient 07/30/09 - 06:11 pm
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the blame goes much deeper

the blame goes much deeper that dr. bedden, what you have with the RCBOE is a backwards or backwoods mentality towards education and the committment needed to make sure that the taxpayers, who BTW are the ones paying the bills receive an acceptable return on their investment, all the while the schools turn out a high level of graduates. instead they feel in their limited limited level of common sense and/or intelligence feel spending millions on building athletic venues and expansion projects for schools that within the last few years graduate less than 60% of their senior class and consistantly fails to meet or exceed ayp (heph, josey, laney, butler and glen hills), and some who do can't even pass the exit exam(for example the butler "grad" who was an honor roll student all through high school but was not able to pass the exit exam after 4 attempts). the priorities should be retaining teachers that will be laidoff,mandating parental involvement, regaining control of the classrooms and making sure there are enuff textbooks and supplies for all students in every subject

ETROOP
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ETROOP 07/30/09 - 10:58 pm
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Out of curiousity has ANYONE

Out of curiousity has ANYONE asked Dr. Bedden WHERE the 24.3 million that the district received in February 2009 from the federal government went? This money was to be used for TITLE I and IDEA covered students with this money that would cover all the TITLE I schools and more than quadrupled what they now spend for IDEA covered services. MAYBE JUST MAYBE the problem isn't how to cut teachers but how to cut the TOP! If you cut the top of the tree the bottom continues to flourish, not to long ago Bedden received bonuses and for what??

happy
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happy 07/30/09 - 11:05 pm
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good questions etroop ! where

good questions etroop ! where did that money go ?

happy
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happy 07/30/09 - 11:19 pm
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I wonder where the 15 minutes

I wonder where the 15 minutes are going to come in ...morning or afternoon ? Heck the buses don't come until 5 ....who will supervise the students when they get there in the morning ? Most arrive a good hour before school starts ..seems no one thought this through !

AUGUSTACS
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AUGUSTACS 08/01/09 - 12:28 am
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all i want to know is, how

all i want to know is, how can i help as a parent? i am sure that parents would not mind being selected for volunteer leadership positions, in order to bring on much needed change!

AUGUSTACS
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AUGUSTACS 08/01/09 - 12:39 am
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When is the next RCBOE

When is the next RCBOE meeting that parents can attend? If we really want to make a change, we must all do our part and be there. Anyone can talk and blog about this, but we really need to make a change for our children’s sake and cutting Education into pieces is not the answer. Who will make a difference and ensure that our CHILDREN OUR NOT LEFT BEHIND. MAYOR, RCBOE SCHOOL BOARD, ANYONE????

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