The majority of Durham Public Schools employees who completed a recent survey prefer a two-day furlough over pay cuts.
But their choice will not be possible because of how they're paid.
Approximately two-thirds of DPS employees - 2,880 - recently completed a survey asking them to choose between the two options. Nearly 73 percent favored the furloughs, which would save 32 positions.
About 5.5 percent favored a 5 or 7 percent permanent salary reduction and 21.6 percent opted for no reductions.
DPS officials learned on Friday that they cannot impose furloughs because local school districts cannot give employees who are paid through state dollars time off beyond what they earn under state annual leave rules, explained DPS school attorney Ann Majestic.
The move would also equate to a demotion for teachers under contract, which cannot happen without just cause, said interim superintendent Hank Hurd.
DPS is considering cutting 292 jobs, including over 200 teachers, to prepare the district for an estimated $20 million budget shortfall. Saving all jobs would require an across-the-board pay cut of up to 8 percent, something Hurd believes school board members will not approve.
"It's just impossible to manage these type of reductions through normal attrition or reductions in efficiencies," he said. "We did that last year. It is a situation where position reductions are the only way out."
The proposed 2010-11 budget will be presented to school board members during the April 29 school board meeting.