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Friday, August 19, 2011 - 11:18am

Students Face Bigger Classes, Longer Days

Students and teachers are returning to larger classes this year as schools struggle with budget cuts. Some districts have a four day school week. Others have shortened their school year.

Friday is the first day of school for Franklin county students in Northwest Georgia. They start later than most because they go to school only 160 of the traditional 180 days. But they stay longer each day, says Superintendent Ruth O’Dell, and it saves them hundreds of thousands of dollars.

"So any staff that are not certified here to support the operation of the school system," says O'Dell, "including bus drivers, lunch room workers, secretaries, technology people, they all were cut twenty days."

O’Dell says trimming worker shifts, coupled with job cuts, cuts to benefits, and other measures, have totaled $8 million in savings over the years. Franklin County teachers have five furlough days this school year.

The state’s superintendents’ association estimates about 90 percent of teachers face furloughs this year, and many of them are managing bigger classes.

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