Schools Employees Agree To Take Furlough
By: Elise R. Hugus
The school department was able to reduce its Fiscal Year 2010 budget by $180,000, thanks to a one-day furlough, an unpaid day off, agreed to by the school employees.
That sum amounted to the largest portion of a $900,000 budget cut the schools were asked to make after a September 29 Special Town Meeting, in which Falmouth officials made clear that the local revenues and state aid would not allow the town to balance its budget, which was short by $3.2 million.
The money will be saved by eliminating a scheduled in-service day on January 15, thereby shortening the school year by one day. Depending on the number of snow days or emergency days, the school year will end between June 18 and 25. The decision to change the school calendar was made by a vote of the school committee on November 9.
Members of the Falmouth Education Association, a union that includes teachers, assistant principals, teacher’s assistants, and nurses, are negotiating the details of their contracts with the school committee; however, it is expected that they will agree to the furlough, said Superintendent Marc P. Dupuis.
Unit A of the FEA, the teachers, has already agreed to the furlough. The units covering assistant principals and teacher’s assistants have tentative agreements, and the administration is still negotiating with the school nurses, said Mr. Dupuis. The custodians, secretaries, food service, and all non-union personnel—the principals, maintenance staff, data processors, and van drivers—have also agreed to the furlough.
While January 15 would have normally been used for teachers’ professional development, Mr. Dupuis said he did not think the unpaid day off would affect the teachers’ skills in the short term. “It’s not something we want to do every year, we can do it this year without having an impact,” he said.
In a letter from the chairman of the school committee, Jamie E. MacDonald IV, to school staff, Mr. MacDonald thanked the staff for agreeing to the furlough.
“Clearly, these are extremely difficult financial times we are experiencing and difficult decisions and action must be taken. The one day furlough greatly assisted the school department in meeting the budget reduction it was facing,” he wrote.
“Whatever challenges and decisions lie ahead, the Falmouth school department is committed to providing the best possible education for all our students,” said Mr. Dupuis.
The remainder of the $900,000 budget cut came from the accounts for materials and supplies, and Title I and special education services that were covered by federal stimulus funds. After the Town Meeting this week, Falmouth schools will receive $150,000 less than expected from Medicare funds that are reimbursed by the town for special education tuitions.
The new FY10 budget, which comes in at $40.4 million, represents a $1 million reduction from the original budget approved by the school committee, a budget that was already rife with cuts. Over the winter, the committee grappled with a $1.3 million reduction from its initial projections, cutting technology, fuel, and transportation accounts, as well as two nursing assistants, a custodian, and a teacher’s assistant. The 2008-2009 school year operated on a budget of $40.1 million.
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