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Digging Deeper: Why furloughs for Albany teachers?

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As other south Georgia school systems are adding school days and reducing teacher furloughs, the Dougherty County Schools face the same budget crisis as last year.

The board approved a $190 million budget that doesn't include a tax increase, but does include 10 furlough days for teachers.

It will also mean larger class sizes and fewer than 180 school days.

We checked with several other school systems in south Georgia to see if they're experiencing the same budget woes at Dougherty County. While we found many schools are still struggling, many have added days and lessened furlough days for teachers, but not Dougherty County.

The Dougherty passed narrowly, but even board members like Velvet Riggins who voted in favor of the budget say they're not happy with it.

"If our programs are not being effective and data does not prove their effective, then why are we doing it?" she said.

That's a question other board members were asking too. "When we cut our teachers for the second year in a row by over five percent pay, have them take these furlough days, it's not sending a great message to the greater community.," said Darrel Ealum.

Along with 10 furlough days, the system has also increased class sizes across the board, grades sixth through twelfth will see the largest classes with 32 students per classroom.

"We're at a point where we should be cutting, funds that we know are being wasted," said member David Maschke.

Maschke says he proposed cuts to the finance department, but they were ignored. He's also concerned about potentially wasted funds, but says there's never an effort to correct.

"We know that there are 140, 150 people that are being overpaid. We know there are other people in positions being paid way beyond what the pay scale for that position requires. We know that there are people in the system that are getting unearned paid leave."

Finance Director Robert Lloyd disputes that. "We're half way through recovering those monies, they'll be recovered over four years and that's what the board voted for."

We dug deeper and checked with others systems to see if they were still feeling economic hardships. Here's what we found, in Lee County they approved a $67.9 million budget with two fewer furlough days for teachers, but still six furlough days.

Worth County's budget is $24.6 million with 180 school days for students and no furlough days for the 2011-2012 school year. 

Board members said their goal is looking ahead, getting quarterly reports this year, so they know what programs are working and which aren't for next years budget. Those that aren't working could be slashed.

The school board is already anticipating another nine million dollar budget deficit for the 2012-2013 school year.

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