OAKWOOD — When the fall quarter begins, Lanier Technical College will look like a ghost town on Fridays.
In a budget-cutting move, the college no longer will offer classes on Fridays at its campuses, and members of the faculty and staff will be at home.
"We believe it will save energy and be cost-effective," said Mike Moye, president of Lanier Tech.
Students who are registering for fall classes also are finding that some portions of their class may take place on the Internet.
"The number of courses is not being cut back, what is changing is the delivery method," said Linda Barrow, a college vice president. "We’ve got to make use of the same number of classrooms for four days that we would have for five days."
Barrow said students in some classes will have assignments from the classroom that will have to be completed on the computer.
"It may be something as simple as a pop quiz," she said.
But shorter school weeks are just one tactic being used by the Technical College System of Georgia to meet its mandated budget cuts.
The state board that oversees the system has approved plans to merge a number of colleges, bringing the total from 33 down to 26.
Among the planned mergers is North Georgia Technical College, which has campuses in Clarkesville, Toccoa and Blairsville, and Appalachian Technical College, which has campuses in Jasper and Woodstock.
"The consolidation will allow us to save about $500,000 per merger in administrative costs," said Mike Light, a spokesman for the Technical College System of Georgia. "Those costs are mostly in personnel areas where some overlapping positions will be eliminated."
The merged schools will have a president at one campus and a provost at another in top administrative capacities.
"The typical student walking on the campus may see a different name on the sign, but they will also see some expanded opportunities," he said.
The mergers will not begin until fiscal year 2010, which starts July 1, 2009.
Traditionally, technical colleges have regional names tied to their primary city.
Light said some of the merged campuses may be renamed, but that has not been determined.
"We want local community involvement, and we will be working with local boards to determine the new names of the combined colleges," he said.
Gov. Sonny Perdue has asked all state agencies to develop budget reductions of 6, 8 and 10 percent. For the Technical College System of Georgia, 6 percent represents a $21.3 million in each fiscal year 2009 and 2010.
A 10 percent cut would require $35.5 million.
Earlier this year, the agency announced the merger of two schools, Chattahoochee Technical College, which is based in Cobb County, and North Metro Technical College, which is located in Bartow County, near the Cobb County line.