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Faculty and Staff Take Furlough

Phillips Academy administrators required most permanent staff and administrators to take four days of unpaid leave in the school’s first-ever furlough which took place between December 28 and December 31. A furlough is a period of time in which employees do not work or receive compensation. In an email, Maureen Ferris, Director of Human Resources, referred to the furlough as a “shutdown,” intended to save money to help Andover survive the economic recession. “The furlough was one strategy in reducing operational costs in response to the 2009 economic crisis. Employees had the option to substitute paid vacation time for the four furlough days, or to take the time unpaid,” wrote Ferris. Estimates for the amount of money saved cannot yet be calculated, according to Stephen Carter, Chief Operating and Financial Officer, because many numbers are still coming in. Ferris wrote, “We are still reviewing timecards, so we do not have any concrete information on savings from personnel costs for those employees who were unpaid during part or all of the furlough. We also expect to experience some savings from utility [and] energy costs, as most buildings on campus were closed during the furlough.” “The shutdown only impacted full-year employees, as academic year employees do not generally work this week,” continued Ferris. The money saved will contribute towards the $3.7 million budget cut approved by the Board of Trustees last spring. “[The furlough] accounts for a fairly small portion of the budget cut,” said Carter. “It’s one of several areas where the institution is trying to save money. Other ways that the Office of the Physical Plant has endeavored to cut costs include the Voluntary Retirement Incentive Program and reductions in business services budgets. “[Andover] is really trying to tighten its belt,” said Carter. Carter said that this year marks the first time that Andover resorted to furlough days. Other prep schools have done the same. “Many of our peer schools shut down during the week between the Christmas and New Year’s holidays,” wrote Ferris. “I believe it’s a fairly common practice over [winter break] at colleges and universities,” said Carter. The administration announced the furlough to the staff over the summer, having made the decision in April 2009. “We’ve known about [the furlough] for a very long time,” said Michael Williams, Director of Facilities at OPP. “We’ve had lots of time to plan.” It is unclear whether these furloughs will occur regularly in the future, as the total amount of money saved has not yet been calculated. “We will evaluate the impact of the furlough on the budget and operations and will use that information to guide decisions regarding future shutdowns,” wrote Ferris. According to Carter, a few departments that remained operational included the Office of Academy Resources, the Admissions Office, and the Comptrollers Office. Public Safety officers and certain OPP workers also remained on duty. “A few people were on staff at the power plant to produce heat,” said Williams. Staff members also checked up on the campus after bad weather, although none worked during the furlough. “Occasionally there were people working on calls about heating issues on campus. The grounds crew was doing snow removal. But none of these jobs were ongoing during the full furlough. Most of the [OPP] department was off,” said Williams. Williams said that with around 90 OPP staff members on mandatory leave, Public Safety officers were responsible for checking on the buildings around campus. “We had Public Safety around, so no buildings were completely shut down,” said Williams. OPP did not want to cut off heat entirely for fear of the pipes freezing. “We reduced the heat in many buildings, including dorms, to save energy and help with greenhouse gases. We started bring the dorm heat back up twenty-four hours before [students] returned [to campus,]” said Williams. Despite the furlough, some buildings were unaffected. “There were some buildings that had people [working] in them, so the heat was not turned down,” said Williams. “The Shuman Admissions Center and McKeen Hall were still [open.] The power plant was still running, and some parts of GW were in operation,” he continued.