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Funding presents options
Furlough days may go away
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Dawson County teachers may be spending more days in class next school year.

And for those who have weathered furlough days, or days without pay, over recent years, the potential extra classroom time likely will be a welcome addition.

"We are hopeful and confident that we can give those furlough days back," said Dawson County School Superintendent Keith Porter. "Our goal is to give back all of the days and I'm optimistic that we are going to be able to give back some or all of those days."

Part of the return in funding comes from Gov. Nathan Deal's decision to limit the amount that school systems must pay for employee insurance. For the past three years, health insurance premiums for classified employees have risen an average of $150 per year.

"By the governor suspending the extra $150 we would have to pay per classified employee for health insurance, that means over $400,000 saved for us," Porter said.

Another source of funding for the next fiscal year will come from the governor's incentive plan to help state education.

"While we haven't seen the figures yet, we are anticipating $600,000 in additional state funds based on the governor's budget," Porter said.

"The total dollar amount for 6 furlough days is over $700,000. With the governor providing that additional $600,000 and us not having to pay the extra on the health insurance, that makes us much more optimistic that we can give those days back this year."

Porter said the school board has long sought the move.

"It is something that we have wanted to be able to do since the first year, five years ago, when we had to take drastic measures to make our budget work," he said.

While no official word will be given until summer, Porter said that the board is reviewing the details.

"The budget will definitely be discussed at the upcoming retreat and over the next few couple months before we present a budget for final approval in July," he said. "We'll be working diligently on the budget until then."

The school board's annual retreat is scheduled for 8 a.m. - 2 p.m. Feb. 26 at the Professional Development Center located, beside the central office.