UPDATE: Please see this related story, which notes some of the cuts restored in the state education budget, including funding for school nurses.
State Rep. Ed Lindsey, who chairs the House Appropriations Sub-Committee on Education, just floated a proposal: teachers across the state might be asked to take six furlough days during fiscal 2010.
The furloughs would potentially fall on six planning days and they would save the state about $200 million, said Lindsey, R-Atlanta. It would essentially wipe out the pay raise teachers got in fiscal 2009 and the savings could be sunk back into the state's education funding formula, he said.
Because contracts were already signed, teachers were the only state employees to get their regular 2.5 percent raise this year. Lindsey said furloughs may help the state and local systems avoid the prospect layoffs, which some systems are already discussing.
"Over the next two weeks or three weeks, we would be remiss... (if we) did not consider (furloughs)," Lindsey said.
Georgia Association of Educators President Jeff Hubbard was present for Lindsey's remarks, which came shortly after the sub-committee's budget vote Tuesday. Hubbard said furloughs aren't ideal, but he didn't reject them out of hand.
"It's an economic reality," he said. "And we realize that all of Georgia's citizens are having to play their part right now."
Hubbard said a couple of school systems, Gwinnett and Forsyth, are hiring staff right now. Others have freezes on. But "the majority" are cutting staff, whether teachers or other staff, such as paraprofessionals, he said.
"We understand (the legislature is) in a tough spot," Hubbard said. "Hopefully this will help save some positions."