Cobb County school board members are expected to consider a proposal Thursday night to restore a paid work day for the district's teachers.
In recent years, teachers have been forced to take several days without pay to help the school system balance its thin budgets. But this year, something unexpected is happening. The school district is projected to have a $10 million budget surplus.
District Superintendent Michael Hinojosa has suggested that $3 million of that surplus be used to erase one of the three furlough days teachers were expecting to take this school year.
Connie Jackson of the Cobb County Association of Educators said teachers overwhelmingly support the proposal.
"We love it," Jackson said. "I mean, it's such a good show a good faith that when (the district) found surplus money the first thing (it) decided to do was put it back into the staff, because your staff is the most important thing after your children."
Jackson said the furlough day in question comes at the end of May. That's after students have already finished their classes for the school year. She said it's a crucial time for teachers.
"It's important because once students leave, there's so much work that has to be done," Jackson said. "I mean, report cards, grades, retention hearings, all of those things."
Jackson said if the board votes down Hinojosa's recommendation, it will mean unpaid work from teachers.
"We're going to do it anyway because we are committed professionals, but getting paid for it is a lot better," Jackson said.
One opponent to the recommendation has already voiced his opinion. Board member Tim Stultz said the $3 million this measure would cost could best be used elsewhere.
"I feel that we should save the money that would go toward restoring a furlough day for this year and use it to help offset a $60 million budget deficit the district is projected to have next year," Stultz said in an email Wednesday.
"We think the board really should listen to the superintendent that this is the best use of funds," Jackson said. "Yes, there's going to be deficit for next year. We're aware of that, and were planning for it, but right now, show us that we still matter and that we're the most important thing after the children."
Thursday's school board meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Cobb County School District headquarters located at 514 Glover Street in Marietta.
Copyright 2012 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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