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Local educators to take furloughs

The economic hardships experienced by the state of Georgia have affected the Decatur County Board of Education the last two years. But, because of a mandate released Wednesday by Gov. Sonny Perdue, every local employee is now affected.

Employees of the local school system will each take three unpaid furlough days between the start of the school year and Dec. 31. The particular days chosen to use as unpaid days will be discussed during a meeting of the board on Tuesday, July 28, at 6 p.m.

However, Superintendent Ralph Jones indicated that a recommendation will be made to the board to use Aug. 3 as the first unpaid furlough day. The other two days would likely be already scheduled teacher planning days when students are not in class.

One day of payroll for the county system is roughly $122,000, so the state will reduce allocations to the board by $368,000.

The order from the governor’s office comes as Quality Basic Education (QBE) funding cuts of 3 percent were announced.

For the Decatur County School System those reductions amount to $701,000. In addition, a $157,000 reduction in categorical grant funding was announced as well.

In total, the reduction of state funding will cost the local system $1.22 million.

While that is hard to swallow, both Perdue and State Superintendent of Schools, Kathy Cox, indicated that these cutbacks would not be the last. Both expect additional fund reductions in the next calendar year.

The furloughs come on the heels of the Decatur County board deliberating on an ad valorem millage rate increase for county residents, which will also be discussed at the July 28 meeting.

A would-be increase would be the first in several years for the county system, ranked 154 of 165 systems in the state relative to ad valorem rates, currently at 11.71 mills.