Newton County School System: Calendar changed a third time

COVINGTON -- For the third time this school year, the Newton County School System changed its 2009-10 school year calendar as a result of state-mandated furlough days.

During the monthly work session of the Newton County Board of Education last week, the school board members unanimously approved a recommendation from NCSS Superintendent Steven Whatley to make changes to the calendar again.

"The days of setting a calendar and sticking to it are over," said school board Chair Cathy Dobbs. "We really apologize to parents and students and teachers and staff, but it's something we have to adjust. It's beyond our control."

The board approved Feb. 12, when schools were closed due to snow and inclement weather, to now serve as a furlough day for staff.

Additionally, Thursday, which originally was scheduled as an early dismissal for staff professional learning time, now will serve as a full day of attendance for students and staff. And Friday, which originally was a student holiday for a teacher work day, now will serve as an early dismissal day for an afternoon teacher work day.

Also, June 2, which in February the board rescheduled from teacher work day to a furlough day, will revert back to being a teacher work day, as it originally was scheduled on the calendar.

So far this school year, Gov. Sonny Perdue requested that schools take six furlough days, in addition to millions of dollars in other state revenue reductions. Each furlough day reduces the NCSS budget by about $411,000 per day, according to NCSS Deputy Superintendent for Operations Dennis Carpenter.

Earlier this school year, the board also approved Sept. 23, when schools were closed due to severe flooding around Newton County, and Jan. 8, when schools were closed due to snow and inclement weather, as furlough days.

NCSS teachers and some staff also took three furlough days in October. Administrators and county office personnel have taken their furlough days throughout the school year as their scheduled allowed.

The salary reductions for the furlough days are prorated over the employees' regularly scheduled pay periods for the payroll year, Whatley said.