Seattle Public School teachers have agreed to take one and a half days off to help ease their state's budget woes.
The move follows a districtwide $45 million budget shortfall over the past year, and is in direct response to the state's slashing funds for teacher salaries by $4 million. This also marks the first time in Seattle history that furlough days, temporary leave of absence, have been taken.
“The state has somewhat arbitrarily cut this," Duggan Harman, the district's executive director of finance, referring to the salary reductions, told the Seattle Times. "Seattle doesn't have the choice except to shut down."
Teachers, principals and non-represented employees in administration and facilities will not work Aug. 31, a week before the school year begins Sept. 7.
The plan serves as an example of effective collective bargaining between the Seattle Education Association and the public school system.
Interim Superintendent Dr. Susan Enfield praised the compromise.
“We applaud the SEA membership as well as our non-represented employees for agreeing to take furlough days during these difficult economic times," Enfield told the Ballard News-Tribune. "While both Seattle Public Schools and SEA leadership recognize the hardship of taking time off without pay, it is the best way to minimize the impact on classrooms and our students.”
Another half day off will be taken in either January or February, KPLU reports.
Overall, the furlough days should save the district $3 million.