Ga. teachers could face furloughs

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ATLANTA - Georgia's teachers could face six unpaid furlough days a year as the state grapples with a massive budget shortfall.

Teachers have so far been immune to state-mandated furloughs that have hit other state agencies hard.

The chairman of the House budget panel that handles education said Tuesday that the state should consider having teachers give up six planning days. The roughly $200 million in savings could then be funneled back to cash-strapped school districts to help them avoid layoffs.

"We would be remiss if we did not consider it," said state Rep. Ed Lindsey, an Atlanta Republican.

Such furloughs would need legislation. Lindsey said lawmakers were looking into how to continue.

The news drew a mixed review from teachers' groups.

Jeff Hubbard, president of the Georgia Association of Educators, sounded resigned to the possibility.

"We realize as good Georgia citizens and good public servants, we might be called on to do our part," Hubbard said. "It would take away from the time we could spend utilizing how better to work with our students."

A spokesman for the 75,000-member Professional Association of Georgia Educators called teacher furloughs a "terrible idea."

"We really ought not to be trying to balance the budget on the backs of the state's 125,000 educators and their families," Tim Callahan said. "This tells them planning days can easily be discarded when they are very important."

Unlike most state employees, who have had their pay frozen this fiscal year, teachers saw a 2.5 percent raise. Lindsey said the furloughs would effectively erase that salary hike.

Also Tuesday, the House Education panel cobbled together $29 million to restore state funding for nurses in the state's schools. Gov. Sonny Perdue's budget recommended slashing state money for the school nurses, igniting howls of protest from parents and educators. They said with student health problems - like diabetes - on the rise, the nurses are needed more than ever. In Georgia, there is currently about one nurse for every 1,598 students.

The spending plan the House education panel voted out on Tuesday also restored funding for graduation coaches.

The full House Appropriations Committee is set to vote on the 2010 budget Wednesday morning. The budget covers the fiscal year that begins July 1.

In other state budget news on Tuesday:

-Health budget writers shoveled an additional $200 million in federal stimulus dollars to Medicaid, filling a massive funding hole for hospitals. The panel also reduced proposed cuts to the state portion of state employees health plan.

-The state Ethics Committee had its budget chopped in half, from $1.5 million to about $750,000. The commission's executive director, Rick Thompson, said the proposed cuts would mean significant staff reductions in the panel charged with policing the conduct of state officials.

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142
Points
Dan White 03/17/09 - 06:07 pm
0
0
Planning days are a waste

Planning days are a waste anyway. The administration both county and principals used these days to make the teachers go to useless meetings. Very little time is actually spent in "planning" for lessons and getting prepared to help students.

WorriedAboutOurFuture
16
Points
WorriedAboutOurFuture 03/17/09 - 06:17 pm
0
0
You guys scared yet? It's

You guys scared yet? It's only going to get worse as the main sources of income-- small businesses-- get taxed out of existance in an effort to 'spread the wealth around'. The first casualties will be the poor and the elderly, and they are really going to be suffering before too long. Hunger and homelessness is going to take off in a way none of us has ever considered possible in this great nation of ours.

My_2nd
0
Points
My_2nd 03/17/09 - 06:20 pm
0
0
yep...when they start talking

yep...when they start talking about laying off teachers, it's bad. giving up the planning days should be no big deal. like greenjacket said, they are not used for their intended purpose anyway. that's not the teachers fault though.

lylagirl
1
Points
lylagirl 03/17/09 - 06:29 pm
0
0
We have been scared for the

We have been scared for the past eight years! What are you talking about!

fht610
1
Points
fht610 03/17/09 - 06:38 pm
0
0
Just pass a few more tax

Just pass a few more tax cuts, the GOP's answer to every problem. That should take care of it,,,,,,

FedupwithAUG
0
Points
FedupwithAUG 03/17/09 - 06:58 pm
0
0
Why don't they just cut out

Why don't they just cut out the travel money for the principals. In our county alone they spent $65,373.12 last year on travel expense. Their average salary is $90,000 so I think they can take the hit in their pockets more than the teachers.

FedupwithAUG
0
Points
FedupwithAUG 03/17/09 - 07:08 pm
0
0
I also want to know how 52

I also want to know how 52 principals in our county can spend $65K a year on travel and the City Of Atlanta's 111 principals spent $74K

Ole School
0
Points
Ole School 03/17/09 - 07:15 pm
0
0
well

well

workingmom
0
Points
workingmom 03/17/09 - 07:26 pm
0
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I don't have a problem with

I don't have a problem with doing my fair share to help the economy, but taking 6 paid days away from teachers is too much. I had already thought about the possibility the state mandating a 2-3 day furlough, which would have been bad enough but six??? This is a significant amount of money for most veteran teachers. It could easily equate to 1 or more house payments. Most teachers I know would be willing to do their part but they certainly would not want to be taken advantage of.

iletuknow
7
Points
iletuknow 03/17/09 - 07:31 pm
0
0
Plenty of dead wood in the

Plenty of dead wood in the teacher ranks.Ball and whistle deadbeats should be shown the door.

Just My Opinion
5203
Points
Just My Opinion 03/17/09 - 08:17 pm
0
0
iletuknow, your comment

iletuknow, your comment doesn't have a thing to do with this article. I don't get you sometimes. If Gov. Perdue wants to really make an impression on the budget, how about all the lawmakers taking a pay cut?? I mean, they want to do it to everyone else, but I haven't seen them offer to do it themselves! I agree with workingmom...6 days is entirely too much. I'm beginning to think that what Perdue and his clan are doing is that they throw out the 6 days-thing, but their actual intention is for it to be less days than that....create an uproar, and then let the public offer an acceptable compromise.

workingmom
0
Points
workingmom 03/17/09 - 08:32 pm
0
0
Just My Opinion, that is

Just My Opinion, that is EXACTLY what I thought when I first read this. I can only hope! I also agree with sharing the pay cuts. If we all have to work together to fix this mess, then let EVERYONE do their fair share.

142
Points
Dan White 03/17/09 - 10:02 pm
0
0
6 days is equal to about

6 days is equal to about $1500 for the average teacher. They also need to cut the principals back from a 220 day contract to a 195 day contract. Teachers are on a 190 day contract.

gofigure1
0
Points
gofigure1 03/17/09 - 11:16 pm
0
0
Did anyone know that Child

Did anyone know that Child Protective Service casemanagers with DFCS have been taking furlough days since around October 2008. Not enough money to keep children safe.

Craig Spinks
817
Points
Craig Spinks 03/18/09 - 12:52 am
0
0
As a former member of both

As a former member of both organizations before my retirement, I am proud that GAE seems willing to do its part to solve our state's budget problems but am embarrassed by the PAGE response.

ConsiderThis
0
Points
ConsiderThis 03/18/09 - 06:47 am
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0
FEDUPWITHAUG a possible

FEDUPWITHAUG a possible answer is that much of the training and many meetings are held in or near ATL.

jaschild
5
Points
jaschild 03/18/09 - 06:51 am
0
0
why are our kids (future)

why are our kids (future) paying for our mistakes and being thrown to the bottom of priorities? their safety and education is in jeopardy?????

sophiecat1
0
Points
sophiecat1 03/18/09 - 07:28 am
0
0
Columbia County can save

Columbia County can save money by getting rid of some of the dead beat secretaries and Sp. Ed teachers who do NOTHING! Start removing those who come to work to sit on their butts and then you will not need to lay off teachers!

strangedaysindeed
0
Points
strangedaysindeed 03/18/09 - 11:19 am
0
0
I think the pre-k program is

I think the pre-k program is a good place to start saving state education money. As a grandmother, I saw my 4 year old grandchild
start school when he and the other 15 or so kids in his class were still "babies"...a long, long day, if they ride the bus it's appx. 7am til 3 pm. My 4 children who started school at 5 years old learned just as much, and are just as smart, and were just as prepared for college as my grandson will be. I wonder what will be next, starting them at 3 years old? Probably. Anyway, I think our state could save a lot by returning to starting a child's school career at 5 years old kindergarten instead of 4 year old pre k. I know, I know, pre-k is funded by the lottery, but that money could be used for other necessary expenses. The head start program serves the needs of children who are at risk, in my county the majority of the pre-k students are not low income or at risk.

strangedaysindeed
0
Points
strangedaysindeed 03/18/09 - 11:24 am
0
0
Hey Sophie, I don't live in

Hey Sophie, I don't live in Columbia county but I know a special ed teacher who did just what you are complaining about...wonder if she has moved !!!!!! She would sit at her desk and delegate all the work to the parapros who were supposed to be one on one with a blind or deaf or paraplegic student but instead they had to work with all the other students while she did nothing. Nobody ever gets fired, the stories I could tell.......

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