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DoDEA may have to fit furloughs into just 2 months

Apr. 4, 2013 - 01:47PM   |  
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Defense officials have reduced the number of required furlough days for civilian employees, but military school officials are now faced with the possibility of having to squeeze the furloughs into an even shorter time frame.

On March 28, the Defense Department announced that the number of unpaid days of leave required of its 750,000 civilian employees would be reduced to 14 from the original 22, after Congress passed legislation that gave DoD more flexibility to carry out budget cuts under sequestration.

Officials also announced the furloughs wouldn’t start until mid- to late June. DoD has said that its civilian employees generally will take one furlough day per week from mid-June through Sept. 30, assuming that no resolution to sequestration is reached before then.

But for schools, that math doesn’t add up: Their schedules vary, but all finish up the current school year by June 14 — about the time the furloughs are scheduled to start. That means DoDEA teachers and staff won’t start taking their furlough days until school starts up again in mid- to late August — only a few weeks before the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30.

Military schools will be closed on furlough days, rather than staying open with doubled-up classrooms, said DoD spokeswoman Cynthia Smith.

DoDEA’s 12,583 employees educate 86,000 students in 194 schools worldwide. About 89 percent of those employees work in the schools.

“DoDEA understands the anxiety budgetary uncertainties and furlough possibilities bring to its school communities,” Smith said.

School officials are reviewing all areas of the budget for potential savings, she said. “As DoDEA closely reviews its budget and considers furlough options and how to best implement cost savings measures, the priority remains focused on mitigating the impact of sequestration on our students.”

Students will complete an accredited year for school year 2013-14, she said, and summer school will remain intact.

School officials decided to close schools entirely on furlough days, “to ensure students’ safety and maintain an acceptable level of quality and compliance,” Smith said.

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