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Albany schools to furlough staff in anticipation of budget cuts

Albany schools to furlough staff in anticipation of budget cuts

The Albany school district and its staff unions have agreed to begin furloughing staff for the rest of the school year to offset anticipated coronavirus-related budget cuts.

“This is a collective sacrifice that we are making,” said Superintendent Melissa Goff in the live-streamed meeting.

On Friday, the Greater Albany Public Schools Board held an emergency session to vote on a memorandum of understanding regarding the furloughs between itself, the Greater Albany Association of Classified Employees and Greater Albany Education Association unions.

The unions voted in favor of the memorandum on Thursday by an overwhelming majority, and the GAPS board members voted unanimously in favor as well during its emergency session.

Staff will be on unpaid leave for a total of eight days each, beginning next week and lasting through the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year, which ends June 10. The understanding also ensures that student days will not be affected and that staff will take turns having days off in a staggered way that doesn’t disrupt distance learning.

Higher-ups with bigger paychecks in GAPS administration will also be furloughed for an additional day each, adding more cushion in the blow to the budget.

Additionally, furloughed staff can begin taking advantage of aid available to them now through both the state Work Share program or the federal CARES Act.

The furloughs will effectively save 25 to 30 staff positions from being cut next year due to budget losses brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, Goff said, and “is going to save us approximately $2 million this fiscal year.”

Reporter Nia Tariq can be reached at nia.tariq@lee.net.

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