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Posted: January 22, 2010 12:30 a.m.

NCSS warns of more furloughs

Governors budget calls for $2M cut

Newton County could soon face more budget cuts and additional furlough days if Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue’s proposed budget is approved by legislature.

The budget calls for an additional 3 percent cut to funding for kindergarten through 12 grade, which amounts to somewhere between $2-3 million, for the current Fiscal Year budget which ends June 30. Also, the governor’s recommendation calls for three more furlough days for teachers before the end of the NCSS’s FY2010.

These cuts are not the first for the NCSS. In July — two weeks before the start of school — it was announced that all 190-day employees would be furloughed three days. Then, in September, the board approved additional reductions in order to make up for a loss of revenue from both the state (more than $4,500,000) and locally (approximately $1,500,000), and at that time Superintendent Dr. Steve Whatley was quick to point out there may be more reductions in revenue forthcoming. During that time the board also voted to charge for some health care coverage that was previously offered for free, reduce one more day on the work calendar for certified and classified administrators and staff at pay grade 12a and above.

The board also eliminated summer school and the 20-day instructional extension program, reducing further the encumbrances for textbooks and instructional materials, cutting the operations budgets for maintenance, energy, fuel and supply and limiting technology purchases to replacements for essential equipment, which is no longer working.

Anticipating more furlough days the board voted to revise the 2010 calendar in November to allow for additional furlough days to be taken if required by the state.

"Approximately 59 percent of the Newton County School System’s revenue comes from the state," said Whatley in a memo to school system employees.

"The additional proposed 3 percent reductions come on top of more than $2.7 million that NCSS has not received from the state due to state cuts made earlier in this fiscal year." 

In a letter to families of the NCSS, Whatley reiterated the facts of the cuts saying, "these recommendations by the governor indicate the severity of the ongoing budget crisis facing our state and public education," but made it clear that the proposed budget was simply a recommendation by the governor and that changes would likely be made in the budget before it was finally approved.

"Please know," he added, "that even in these challenging economic times, the students of the Newton County Schools will remain our focus in decision making and preparation for academic achievement."

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