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Cuts kill teacher preplanning days
W Teacher file photo
In this Herald file photo from February, Bulloch County Teacher of the Year Tiffany Todd is shown teaching her 11th grade U.S. History class at Southeast Bulloch High. All Georgia teachers will get fewer paid planning days as part of a furlough plan ordered by Gov. Sonny Perdue. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/file
      A mandate from Gov. Sonny Perdue led Bulloch County Board of Education members to a decision that teachers won't be paid for two preplanning days scheduled next week.
       Bulloch teachers were to have preplanning days Monday and Tuesday to prepare for classes, which start Monday, Aug. 3. However, due to the governor's order that all state employees and teachers take a three-day furlough this calendar year, and that those days teachers are furloughed not be student instructional days, the preplanning days will now be days off without pay.
       Many teachers may choose go to their classrooms and work to prepare for school, although they won't be paid, said Bulloch County School Superintendent Dr. Lewis Holloway.
       "They (state officials) call it furlough, but in effect it will be leave without pay," he said during Thursday night's Bulloch County Board of Education meeting.
       He and other board members discussed seeing teachers working on their own time, getting things ready for students, and Holloway said teachers will most likely do what needs to be done regardless of whether they are on the clock.
       "I truly believe our teachers will get the job done," he said. "Unfortunately, they won't get paid. I think the attitude is going to be teachers are glad they have a job."
       The furlough will be, in effect, a $250 deduction from teachers' pay. "That's a car payment," he said.
       The third day furloughed will be Monday, Jan. 4, 2010, he said in a letter sent to all teachers.
       In the letter, Holloway explained the furloughed days were separated "In order to lessen the impact on personnel... We estimate the average cost to a teacher to be approximately $60 per month. All 11 and 12 month employees will also take a three-day furlough during this school year."
       Bulloch County Board member Edwin Hill said "It's just unbelievable this can happen ... so suddenly."
       Board Vice Chairman Dr. Charles Bonds said he sees teachers working off the clock often in order to get things done. He said he has seen teachers working at the schools already this month in preparation for the upcoming school year, he said.
       Board members discussed the pending funding cuts that will be handed down by the state. Also, they voted to pass a balanced budget during Thursday's meeting, and talked about plans to further reduce the school system's budget by $1 million.
       Assistant Superintendent for Finance Charles Wilson said the budget had already been cut by $1 million, "but the bottom line is, we are looking for another million dollars to cut" after Perdue mandated an additional four-percent reduction in state funding.
       "We will have to increase revenue or cut spending by $5 million in the next three years," Wilson said. "This is the worst situation we have ever seen."
       As board members discussed the financial challenges, they also predicted increased class sizes, which Holloway said would affect the AYP (Annual Yearly Progress) of the county's schools.
       Teaching and other positions will also be reduced through attrition over the next few years, Wilson said.
       In his letter to teachers, Holloway said "We understand that this is an imposition on everyone as they begin preparation for students to return to school. We know the quality of employees and have no doubt that your professionalism will shine through during these tough economic times.
       "Our ultimate goal is to handle these days in a manner not to impact student achievement," he wrote." Thank you for your dedication to our students and the school district."

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