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Tuesday, February 23, 2010 - 11:50am

DOE: More Teacher Furloughs in 2011

The Georgia Department of Education recommends shortening the school year to help schools cope with budget cuts next year. Lawmakers heard from the department at a joint committee hearing on the budget today.

Local school systems could face over a billion dollars in cuts in state funding for 2011. Deputy Superintendent of Finance Scott Austensen says that could mean more furlough days for educators.

"It seems to us teachers are going to have to be taking reduced pay because there simply is not enough money in the budget," says Austensen.

This year, school systems have managed furloughs by cutting only planning days, but Austensen recommended giving schools the flexibility to cut instructional days.

"Our view now is we need to talk to school systems and consider whether makes sense to cut all professional development days," says Austensen, "as opposed to looking at balancing maybe some reduced days for direct instruction and some reduced days for professional development."

That didn’t sit well with Sally Fitzgerald of the Georgia PTA.

"I would encourage you to refrain from cutting time from our school year to educate our children. We can’t do a rerun on childhood."

It would take legislation to shorten the 180 day school year.