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School system sets furlough dates
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The majority of Effingham County School System’s approximately 1,750 employees will be taking three furlough days.

Superintendent Randy Shearouse said most employees will have furlough days on Aug. 4, Oct. 22 and Dec. 18. All of the days are planning days.

He said central office and maintenance workers will be furloughed Dec. 28, 29 and 30.

The only system employees who will not have furlough days are bus drivers and food service employees since they only work on instructional days, and only planning days are being furloughed.

“There are three furlough days and then on top of that there is an additional 3 percent cut,” Shearouse said.

School systems across the state are being asked to institute furloughs as the state seeks to stop a budget crisis.

He said board employees began looking at areas to cut the budget on Wednesday and will present the cuts to the board members.

“We’ve already had to cut the budget drastically, and it’s difficult to come up with more cuts,” Shearouse said. “We’re going to keep working on ways to cut the budget. I will present those areas to the board for them to take a look at and decide if that’s truly where they want to cut the budget.”

Shearouse said the board may have a special called meeting next week.

He said Gov. Sonny Perdue said it would take 12 to 18 months to recover, but there is a concern that there may be a need to make additional cuts later in the budget year.

“We were able to manage the budget OK last year, and then we thought we were OK for this coming year. But it is a concern because we’ve already cut,” Shearouse said. “We’ve fortunately been able to not lay off any teachers. We’ve absorbed some positions through attrition at this point — we have not laid anyone off. I don’t know how long we can go before that does happen.”

He said the three days have to be taken during the next five months, but he thinks when the General Assembly meets in January it could be possible for more furlough days to be required.

“This is truly saving the state quite a bit of money, so hopefully this is the only cut we’re going to see for this year, and the economy will start rebounding. And we won’t have to worry about that in January, but it is a possibility,” he said.

Shearouse said he hopes the impact will be reduced because the three days’ pay are being reduced from teacher’s pay evenly through the course of the year.

Shearouse said the furlough days taken by locally paid employees will absorb some of the budget cuts, but the board will still have to cut $1.4-1.5 million from the budget.