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Furloughs 'the best of bad options'

BUFORD - All Buford City Schools employees will take five unpaid days off this year, school board members confirmed this week.

The decision to implement furloughs came after Gov. Sonny Perdue called for three furlough days for all state employees and cut the funding formula for school districts by an additional 3 percent as part of his plan to address state budget shortfalls.

Buford Board of Education member Bruce Fricks said the furloughs were "the best of bad options."

"Layoffs wouldn't be the right thing for the students, and it wouldn't be the right thing for the teachers," he said.

Board Chairman Phillip Beard said the latest round of state cuts - which had an impact of about $630,000 - was "more than a small system can absorb."

None of the district's local funding - about $17 million - has been cut, but the state's portion has been getting smaller because revenues are down, Beard said.

"I don't see any relief in sight as far as the economy picking up to give the state any relief," Beard said.

The district developed a furlough plan that will not affect the 180 instructional days, Beard said. Employees' days off will be staggered, he said.

Superintendent Geye Hamby did not return numerous messages left at his office or e-mail requests for comment.