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      DCSS board passes budget with furloughs, shorter school year

      Programs and teachers survived cuts when it came to passing the Dougherty County School System TMs (DCSS) budget, but the balanced budget did come with a price.

      To offset a $6 million shortfall, faculty and staff " including the Dougherty County Superintendent Dr. Joshua Murfree " had to receive furlough days to offset the school system TMs budget deficit. Those working more than 190 days will receive ten furlough days while those working fewer than that will receive three furlough days.

      I think most would agree that that is preferable to dozens and hundreds of people in the school system losing their jobs and reduction in force, says R.D. Harter with DCSS Public Information.

      The employment situation in Dougherty County is not good and there's not a will within the school system to make people unemployed, says Robert Lloyd, Executive Director of Finances and Business Operations at DCSS. There may be a will amongst board member to start looking at that.

      This year the school system used $3 million they received from a federal Education Jobs Funds grant in October 2010. This helped fill the budget TMs shortfall, but Lloyd says staff cuts may need to come next year to balance the Fiscal Year 2013 budget.

      While no staff cuts were made for Fiscal Year 2012, school days were cut from 180 days to 177 days. Harter says the shorter school year will affect the children TMs educations.

      I am pleased that we have a balance budget, I'm pleased that we've preserved programs, we've not lost people, but we always have to remember that we have lost during these economic crisis instructional time with children, says Harter. I think that's important for our society to remember, that we want to recover from economic times but we first want to think about our future and our future is the preparation of our children to deal with life.

      Harter says furlough days will also affect advancement in teaching and education.

      Teachers being furloughed 10 days have lost preplanning and post planning day and days for in service where they would normally better prepare for delivering instruction in the classroom and learn new ways and new methodologies, says Harter.

      Teachers will also only be receiving a STEP raise from the state if they earn it, says Lloyd, and the raises will be between three percent and 4.5 percent.

      DCSS board members passed the Fiscal Year 2012 DCSS budget Wednesday afternoon in a 4-3 vote, with David Maschke, Carol Tharin and Darrel Ealum voting against it.