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Georgia Colleges Working on Plans to Furlough Workers

ATLANTA

Georgia colleges are hammering out plans to furlough employees for six days this school year.

Georgia State University and the University of Georgia held forums with faculty, staff and students Thursday to talk about the unpaid leave mandated by the state Board of Regents last week. The board hopes to save $42 million by furloughing most of the university system’s 40,000 employees, including faculty, though the days must be taken when students are not scheduled to be in class.

The Regents are trying to slash up to 8 percent of the budget for Georgia colleges and universities as state tax revenue collections continue to plummet.

UGA president Michael Adams told employees and students gathered on the Athens campus Thursday that the university is budgeted to receive $440 million from the state this year, less than what the university received in 2002. In that time, the state’s flagship campus has grown by 2,000 students, he said.

So far, the campus has avoided layoffs by not filling vacant jobs, but that may no longer be an option, Adams said.

“We can’t go much further here without resorting to layoffs,” he told the crowd. “There comes a point where there are no more savings without eliminating people.”

University employees will take furlough days on Oct. 30, Nov. 25, Dec. 24, Jan. 4, March 8 and April 30, he said.

Georgia State president Mark Becker told employees during campus town hall meetings that he is adding two extra furlough days to the calendar to prevent laying off nearly 30 people, which means workers will take eight days of unpaid leave before the end of the fiscal year on June 30. Becker and other top administrators will take 12 furlough days.

“This is a difficult time for everybody in this room and everybody on this campus,” Becker said in the crowded auditorium. “Faculty have told me, ‘We’ll do what we have to, but none of us is happy about it.”

At Georgia Tech, employees will take for furlough days during Christmas break. The two other days will be taken after Jan. 1, though no dates have been set yet,

president G.P. “Bud” Peterson wrote in an Aug. 12 letter to campus.

“All of us here at Georgia Tech recognize that these circumstances will create a significant hardship for many in our community, and we will do everything possible to minimize the impact on our students and employees,” he wrote.

The Board of Regents has exempted two groups of college employees from furloughs: foreign workers whose visas depend on their employment and workers who make less than $23,600 a year. That’s about 4,000 people, or 10 percent of the university system’s work force.



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