Durham asks teachers to choose between pay cut, furlough

Posted March 31, 2010 8:36 p.m. EDT
Updated April 1, 2010 9:08 a.m. EDT

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— Durham Public Schools leaders asked teachers and staff to choose between a pay cut or 2-day furlough as a means to save jobs and fill a $20 million anticipated budget shortfall in the coming year.

The school system sent out a survey to teachers on Monday asking them to choose between the two options. Answers are due Thursday. The results of the survey will be considered as the board prepares the budget for 2010-2011, a note on the school system Web site says.

The furlough, which would be above and beyond any statewide furlough sought by the governor for public employees, would require all DPS employees to take two days without pay. The pay for those two days is equal to a one-time, one percent cut of a teacher's annual pay, the Web site says. It would save the school system and estimated $1.8 million.

The other option is a salary reduction, which, the survey warns, would be permanent.

"It is important for employees to know that if the salary reduction is chosen, your salary is reduced, longevity is reduced and your retirement benefit could be lower if you are in your last 48 months before retirement," the survey says.

A proposal presented to the Board of Education March 25 noted that an across-the-board pay cut of 5.5 percent would save the district $10.7 million.

The cost-cutting measures would be applied to prevent the need to cut teaching positions, the Web site says. In the 2009-10 fiscal year, 138 teachers and 74 teaching assistant positions were cut in Durham.

The 2010-11budget proposal includes a plan to cut up to 60 positions and 25 percent of the budget from central services. Those cuts would come on top of the loss of 61 positions due to the tight budget in 2009-10.

Also on the table is a plan to increase class sizes and reduce the number of teachers needed.

Interim Superintendent Hank Hurd is to present his budget plan to the board on April 29. A public hearing is scheduled for May 6 and the budget is due to county commissioners no later than May 15.