Community News Walker County BOE plans to eliminate furlough days

Community News Walker County BOE plans to eliminate furlough days

March 16th, 2016 by Katie Ward in Community Walker

Walker County Schools Superintendent Damon Raines

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

“Giving them back those days gives us a better opportunity as teachers. We are excited to get back to that point.”
Damon Raines, Walker County Schools superintendent

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In other business:

  • “We are working on the Ag Barn at LaFayette High School,” Raines reported. “That’s in process.”
  • “We are installing the switches for infrastructure in the school buildings for technology,” he said. “We are trying to get the infrastructure to handle and boost testing capabilities. It’s through E-Rate. We start at the high schools. Then, we prioritize the schools throughout the district. We are trying to have all that completed for Milestones after spring break.”
  • The exterior security system at Rossville Elementary School now has a camera mounted. “It’s a more safe and secure measure for the students,” said Raines. “The board gave us permission to do it in all the schools. We will get the elementary schools done and then plan for middle and high schools. The whole thing is $24,000 per school. We will do all nine of the elementary schools. That will leave Saddle Ridge and the middle and high schools. I would assume that installation will be immediate. That was a two-day installation [at RES] so it should be a quick process.”

Since joining the Walker County public school system, Damon Raines' goal has been to get the school year back to 180 days of student instruction.

This coming school year, the superintendent said, he will reach that goal as all furlough days are eliminated. A furlough day reduces the system's budget by taking days or specific employees temporarily off the payroll.

"We've had to really look over how we spend our money the last few years," said Raines. "Furlough days helped us with a balanced budget. The state has reduced some of the austerity reductions. There's a little more than a million [dollars] coming back from austerity funneled back to individual schools. So we were able to give back some of those days. We will add austerity money to put us back at 180 days next year."

Last year, the system had two furlough days, down from the previous year's five. That meant 175 days of student instruction.

"The two furlough days are a little over $600,000," Raines said of the cost of adding them back in. "Adding back five student days is $600,000."

This comes after the district added 30 new teaching positions last year.

"We have additional staff so that class sizes can be smaller," WCBOE Director of Financial Services Phyllis Copeland said at that time. "The increase in employers' cost of health insurance is $800,000 more. We will insure bus drivers, cafeteria workers and other non-certified employees."

The recently approved calendar for next school year is as follows:

* Aug. 3: First day of school

* Sept. 5: Labor Day holiday

* Oct. 10-11: Fall break

* Nov. 21-25: Thanksgiving holiday

* Dec. 19-Jan. 3: Holiday break

* April 3-7: Spring break

* May 19: Last day of school

For the full calendar and other news, visit walkerschools.org.


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