School's Out for Furlough - NBC Bay Area
Prop Zero
The Starting Point for Commentary and Coverage of California Politics

School's Out for Furlough



    School just started a few weeks ago but some students in the South Bay are just about to begin a week-long break.

    Starting Monday, Oct. 4, classrooms in the San Jose Unified School District will be empty. It's an extreme cost-cutting measure that the district says it is forced to take because of budget cuts. The closure lasts through the whole week.

    The district has lost about $50 million because of the state budget crisis, leaving them with a tough decision. Instead of sending out pink slips and closing doors permanently, they are opting for the week-long furlough.

    The five-day furlough will amount to almost a three percent pay cut for the district's 1,800 teachers and will save the district about $5 million. All employees agreed to the furlough.

    Here's part of the letter from the School Superintendent Vincent Matthews:

    Please understand that furlough days are one of the only options we have to reduce expenses in our school district. We have lost over $50 million in state funding the last two years and the furlough days help us balance the budget and allow us to not further erode support services and programs for students. The issue is clearly a lack of state funding. The state gave us flexibility to roll back the school year because they recognize they are no longer adequately funding our schools to operate at 180 days.

    All programs and teaching will cease for the entire week. High school athletics will continue but there will be no supervision, the district states on their website.

    Parents have known about the week off since last spring, when the drastic decision was made.

    District leaders decided to put all the furlough days into one week instead of sprinkling them throughout the school year because it maximizes the time of year students will be in school. Adding a furlough week during holidays or other scheduled days off would have interrupted the teaching schedule too much for students.

    But with the state going on nearly 100 days without a budget, this week-long furlough might be just the beginning of extreme measures to keep school doors open, even with the planned cost-cutting closure.