ANNAPOLIS – The Naval Academy hoped Tuesday for a short federal shutdown, but braced for a long one.
About 1,200 of the academy’s 1,650 civilian employees were given a furlough notice late in the morning. Professors taught classes through the day’s end, but were to await word from Washington before returning to work.
More than 1,200 military employees, along with civilians in “essential” services, like food service, health, fire and safety, are left to keep the academy running.
But more than 4,000 midshipmen still need to go to class, and military professors must cope with a suddenly heavier workload. Even though more than half of the teachers were furloughed, no classes will be canceled or shortened, according to academy spokeswoman Karen Myers.
“The military instructors will be taking over those classes, so there won’t be a disruption,” Myers said.
Lt. Cmdr. Jack Mills, associate chair of the economics department on campus, said that the remaining professors in his discipline would have to teach up to seven courses during the shutdown.
“We’re going to have to apportion out the classes taught by civilian professors,” Mills said.
He said that five economics professors would fill the gaps left by the forced departure of about a dozen instructors.
“A lot of the civilian professors said they would be willing to teach even if they were furloughed, but they were told they couldn’t do that,” Mills said.
While it is “doable” to cover all the classes if the shutdown lasts only a few days, Mills said, there could be a problem if it goes longer. “We don’t physically have enough people to staff all the classes,” Mills said.
Mills said that about 85 percent of the economics department schedule could be covered if there is a long-term shutdown. In that case, some classes would be moved to later in the afternoon or on weekends to stay on schedule for final exams in mid- December.
On Wednesday, for instance, Mills was to cover two courses in the afternoon in addition to his two in the morning. “I’m not quite sure where the civilian professors are in their classes, but we’re in the process of figuring that out today,” Mills said. “Hopefully, this thing won’t last more than a day or two, and they’ll hammer out some sort of compromise down there in Washington,” Mills said. -30-