Cobb County school superintendent Michael Hinojosa is recommending that the five furlough dates built into the tentatively adopted fiscal year 2014 budget take place in October and next February.
At a work session on Wednesday, the Cobb Board of Education received two proposed options for the furlough dates, which are still under consideration before a scheduled official budget vote on May 16.
Hinojosa's recommendation would be for the furlough dates -- which apply to all Cobb County School District employees -- to be scheduled for Thursday and Friday, Oct. 3-4, Thursday and Friday, Feb. 13- 14 and Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014.
Monday, Feb. 17, 2014, is a district holiday due to President's Day.
That proposal would allow the 2013-14 academic year to begin on Wednesday, Aug. 7, as previously approved by the board. Teachers are scheduled to report on July 31.
But the other proposal calls for a delayed start to impose three furlough days from Wednesday-Friday, July 31-Aug. 2 and Feb. 13-14. Under the second option, teachers would report on Monday, Aug. 5, with the first day of classes slated for Monday, Aug. 12.
Both proposals will be discussed further at next Thursday's meeting.
Board member David Banks of Northeast Cobb suggested that the furlough dates all be taken at once, during the week of the President's Day holiday.
But Hinojosa said such a move would create a number of scheduling problems. Darryl York, the district's director of policy development, said state law requires that each school semester have a minimum of 87 class days.
Hinojosa's preferred furlough dates would include a fall semester with 87 days and a spring semester with 88 days.
In the other option, the fall term would have 88 days and the spring 87 days.
The board is wrestling with a projected deficit of $86.4 million. Five furlough dates would save the district around $15.5 milion, one of the biggest sources of savings among the proposed cuts, which include the reduction of 182 teaching positions through attrition ($13.9 million).
The tentative budget also calls for using $22 million in reserves to reach a balance.
A public hearing on the budget has been called for Tuesday, two days before the scheduled final budget vote.
But board member Kathleen Angelucci, who asked her colleagues if they were "comfortable voting on this next week," wondered if another budget work session may be needed to hash out differences. The board's tentative budget approval on April 29 was by a 4-3 vote.
She sought clarification on possible scenarios if a budget vote did not place as scheduled, or if, as happened last year, the board initially rejected the budget before approving it several days later.
Clem Doyle, the board's attorney, said the board would not have to "start over" if a budget was rejected, and that it has until the end of June to adopt a budget.
Fiscal year 2014 begins on July 1.
"I just want us to keep all of our options open," Angelucci said.