Included in the mix of those to be furloughed are District of Columbia Public School teachers and school personnel. As a result of emergency legislation, known as the Balanced Budget Furlough Emergency Act of 2011, that was recently passed by the DC City Council – DC government employees will be furloughed on four designated legal public holidays during Fiscal Year 2011: February 21, Washington’s birthday, April 15, DC Emancipation Day, May 30, Memorial Day and July 4, Independence Day. The emergency legislation specifically states: "The District of Columbia Public schools shall not furlough a classroom teacher on a date when there is classroom instruction during an instructional period."
WTU President Nathan Saunders commented on teacher furloughs in a recent press release. Saunders stated: "Furloughs are the repercussions that workers face when subjected to government budgets which they don't control. City workers, including teachers, will now receive less pay as a result of poor budget decisions made by senior level DC government officials. At some point, the DC government must hold managers accountable for over-spending the same way it holds workers accountable." (Click furloughs for WTU press release). I contend that the Michelle Rhee/Kaya Henderson regime under the helm of former DC mayor, Adrian Fenty contributed to the DCPS' share of the budget deficit problem.
During our February 5, 2011 WTU Executive Board meeting, elected teachers and school personnel expressed their frustration about getting hammered at every turn due to DCPS overspending. Our board was in agreement that 'alternatives to furloughs' need to be considered. As a result of this lively discussion, the WTU Executive Board passed a motion which gives the Washington Teachers’ Union authority to explore 'alternatives to furloughing' teachers and school personnel before President’s Day, the 1st day of government furloughs. Washington Teachers' Union is interested in your ideas on how DC Public Schools can achieve real cost savings so that we can look for ways around teacher/school personnel furloughs. We will compile a list of your ideas and provide these recommendations to Mayor Gray amongst other strategies. The Washington Teacher blog will also post your ideas. Please email your cost saving recommendations to: firstname.lastname@example.org or via fax @ 202-293-9732. Got suggestions- we’re listening.