The Carroll Board of Education, despite protests from labor leaders,voted last night to furlough school employees for two days as the final piece of a $1.95 million cost-cutting plan.
The vote came justa day after unions representing most of the district's 2,200 workersurged the school board to consider a cost-cutting plan that would instead trim about $700,000 in classroom supplies.
But Board President Cheryl A. McFalls ruled out that possibility,and the board, by a 3-1 vote, backed her stance. Joseph D. Mish Jr. dissented, proposing the board opt for a union-backed recommendation to cut classroom supplies and require a one-day furlough. John D. Myers Jr. was out of town.
"I can understand their sentiment," McFalls said. "But we are trying to make cuts that least hurt students."
The unpaid two-day furloughs will save the district $700,000. The board last week trimmed $1.25 million, largely in administrative operations, and was considering three of four other options to make up the difference.
The county commissioners, responding to a $3.7 millioncut in state aid, had asked the board to consider furloughs as part of any cost-reduction plan. County employees also will take two to four unpaid furlough days.
"It doesn't really need to happen right now," said Cindy Cummings, president of the Carroll County Education Association, which represents county teachers. "It's premature. I think it's a political ploy between counties and county governments."
Furloughs will occur Jan. 24 and June 18 for most employees. Schools and offices will be closed Jan. 24, all school-sponsored activities, including sports, will be postponed, and buildings will not be available for community use. The furloughs don't affect cafeteria workers, who are paid out of a separate budget.
The school board last week rejected cutting classroom supplies and asked the five unions representing workers to consider one of the other options to make up the $700,000 difference.
Union leaders advocated cutting classroom supplies over the three other options, including a 1 percent salary reduction or layoffs of 130 workers. Furloughs, they said, should only be a last resort.
"When the gun's at your head, then take furloughs," urged Tom Kelleher, a senior staff official of the American Federationof State, County and Municipal Employees, which represents maintenance and custodial workers.
Although some union leaders asked the board to delay action on the measures until after the legislative session, McFalls said the board needed to "be cooperative and work with the commissioners at this time."
Harold Fox, a negotiator for the 1,400-member teachers union, asked the board to consider other alternatives.