Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa is asking the board to return one of three furlough days to teachers during post-planning week, after school lets out.
Hinojosa said he decided to make the request after he spoke to board member David Banks about his request to hire more teachers.
“I certainly support Mr. Banks’ request, but with a different twist from his initial suggestion,” Hinojosa said. “We made a lot of progress this year, have a lot of staff members that work very hard and we’re moving in the right direction.”
The superintendent said the district will have about $10 million in surplus from the FY12 budget, and buying back the furlough day would cost a little over $3 million.
“We were all very nervous about the future budget, but I was not expecting a surplus of plus $10 million for the last fiscal year, which we do anticipate,” he said.
Not all board members agree.
Tim Stultz, who represents southeast Cobb and in previous meetings has been adamant about saving extra money for future budgets, said he wouldn’t support the agenda item.
“We have a larger, more meaningful need coming up, and I think we should save as much of that surplus as possible,” he said.
West-central Cobb’s Alison Bartlett said the board should wait until at least January or February to take the vote in case the state requires austerity cuts in the middle of the year.
“The better option for us is to wait until we are farther into the budget to make sure the state isn’t going to give us a surprise $10 (million) or $20 million austerity cut, which we have not budgeted this year, so we would have to take that out of reserves,” she said. “It’s too early in the season to consider this one when we don’t really know how the budget’s going to shake out.”
Board Chair Scott Sweeney asked Chief Financial Officer Mike Addison how much notice his department receives from the state if they will see mid-year austerity cuts.
“We get no advance notice,” Addison said, adding that the district didn’t see a mid-year austerity cut from the state in FY12 but did in FY09, FY10 and FY11.
Sweeney said legislators told him that revenues have been coming in higher than projected.
Bartlett suggested giving teachers a bonus instead of buying back the furlough day.
“If we get into spring time and there are additional funds, I would rather do what (Marietta City Schools) did and do a one-time bonus,” Bartlett said. “It meets the needs, versus telling the teachers that they have another day of post-planning that you have to report to.”
Sweeney said with roughly 15,000 employees, splitting up the $3 million would allow for about $200 each.
Most of Marietta City Schools’ 1,160 employees received a bonus in their paycheck in October after the board elected to give its employees a one-time, 1 percent bonus on their base salary in a unanimous vote.
The group decided to discuss the issue further and vote on it at the Sept. 27 night meeting, which will be in the Cobb Schools boardroom at 514 Glover St. in Marietta at 7 p.m.