Georgia asks 128,000 teachers to take furloughs

A week before most Middle Georgia schoolteachers return to work to prepare for the start of a new school year, Gov. Sonny Perdue sprang news of another round of cuts.

This time he's asking the state's 128,000 teachers to take a three-day furlough by the end of the year.

Many school systems, such as Bibb, Crawford and Monroe systems, were left Wednesday figuring out how to handle the request.

Meanwhile, Houston County schools made the decision to furlough most of their employees next Thursday and Friday, which would cut into teacher training and time when parents can visit schools to fill out paperwork.

Bibb County schools Superintendent Sharon Patterson called a news conference Wednesday, saying the system hasn't decided whether it will force teachers to take unpaid furloughs or look at other parts of the system’s budget to cut.

She said she didn't know if the governor had the legal authority to mandate unpaid teacher furloughs because teachers sign contracts with their local school boards and are required to work 190 days a year.

"Teachers are on pins and needles, and I don't want to do any knee-jerk reaction," Patterson said. "The decision comes late, and we want to be careful with how to proceed."

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