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Wednesday, July 22, 2009 - 9:56am

State Workers Likely Furloughed

To help close a budget shortfall of almost $1 billion, Governor Sonny Perdue is calling for furloughs for all state employees, including teachers.

State budget collections have been abysmal this year, with revenues around $900 million shorter than projected. To help plug the budget, Gov. Perdue is ordering three day furloughs for state employees this calendar year.

Perdue is also ordering all state agencies to reduce their budgets by another five percent.

The power to require teacher furloughs rests with individual school systems, so Perdue says he will simply reduce funding to school districts in the amount that would be saved by having teachers take off 3 working days in a school year. That leaves the decision of where to make cuts up to each individual school system.

In Richmond County, school superintendent Dana Bedden says that he is considering all the options and hasn't decided whether furloughs will be the way to go.

Governor Perdue recommended that school systems use days designated for parent conferences and teacher work days.

That bothers Jeff Hubbard. He is the president of the 42,000 member Georgia Association of Educators.

"School systems only have between 4 to 5 planning days before Christmas. What you've done is basically take away any opportunity that teachers are gonna have for professional development...for any collaborative planning...for any team get ready for the year. So the big losers here are going to be the children academically."

President of Georgia Federation of Teachers speaks out against the decision.

"At a time when Georgia's schools are performing better on state-wide and federal tests, we question the governor's wisdom in his decision to furlough teachers," said Verdaillia Turner. "The millions of dollars allocated for programs such as the Go Fishing Project (sic) and the hundreds of millions of dollars afforded corporations in tax breaks would be better spent on Georgia's future, our children."

Perdue's announcement marks the first time in 25 years that teacher furloughs have been called for.

In addition to the furloughs the budget also includes a 3 percent cut to education.