To trim costs, Marana Unified School District has implemented an unpaid furlough program for a number of its employees.
The furloughs — unpaid days off for which an employee would normally be paid — were allocated in varying numbers, depending on the class of employee.
Tamara Crawley, MUSD director of public relations, said the furlough days will be applied to days identified as paid holidays so there won't be any impact on an employee's day-to-day schedule.
"The payroll department will take an employee's daily rate of pay, multiply it by the number of furlough days applied to their category, and spread it over 18 paychecks," Crawley said. "The goal is the minimize the effect on overall paychecks."
MUSD employees are paid every two weeks. The furlough reductions begin with Sept. 11 paychecks and continue until May 7. Expected savings from the furloughs total $226,671, Crawley added.
Certified staff (teachers, counselors, librarians and speech language pathologists) have no furlough days, Crawley pointed out, "because teachers already have been impacted with a reduction in their base salaries from Proposition 301 funds." She said second-year teachers had a reduction of $1,303.17 in annual base salary this school year, while third-year and above teachers were reduced $1,933.60.
MUSD exempt staff positions (facilitators, managers and coordinators), support staff, psychologists, nurses, occupational therapists and physical therapists must each take two furlough days.
All administrative positions (directors, superintendents, assistant superintendents, principals and associate principals) must take four days of furlough.
Dr. Doug Wilson, MUSD superintendent, said the district has been faced with more than $8 million in budget reductions over the past two years.
"District administration and our governing board have worked collaboratively with the Marana Education Association and the Marana Education Support Professionals to minimize the impact of these difficult economic times on our employees and to ensure we are supporting what is going on in our classrooms," Wilson said. "While we had hoped to not have to implement any furlough days, we are confident that this method of distribution equalizes the financial impact among all employee groups, which is the right thing to do."
In the spring, MUSD laid off 30 teachers when the district was facing an estimated $7.6 million budget reduction, Crawley pointed out. The district was able to rehire 26 of those teachers. All 30 of those laid off were probationary teachers in grades K-12.
"We also thought we would have to raise class sizes because of the budget cuts," she noted, "but after determining the budget reduction was just over $5 million, we will keep class sizes comparable to last year and not reduce them."
The district also rehired 68 out of 93 support staff who had been laid off in March.
Besides the furlough program, Crawley said other cost-saving measures instituted included eliminating a half-time associate principal's position, and reducing an associate principal from full-time to half-time.
MUSD projects its enrollment for the 2009-2010 school year that began Monday to be 12,737, down from 12,857 last year and from 13,138 during the 2007-08 school year. The amount of money a school district receives from the state is based on the number of students enrolled.
Crawley attributed the decrease in enrollment to multiple factors — "the economy, the tremendous decrease in the amount of development, and families moving out of the area," she said.