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BOE reviews mid-term adjustments
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Members of the Newton County Board of Education during Tuesday's meeting examined the system's FY 2008 preliminary mid-term budget adjustment.

Board members will continue to consider the line items in the adjustment until March 18 when they are scheduled to approve it.

The additional mid-term revenue and expenditures coupled with $200,000 in budgeted contingencies should increase the ending fund balance by $344,816.

"You basically have three sections to the mid-term adjustment," said Superintendent Steve Whatley.

Section I of the adjustment includes additional revenue expected from the state, a grant for the installation and training of graduation coaches and e-rate (federal discounts for schools and libraries to purchase modern telecommunication devices) funds.

The total amount of the estimated revenue available for the mid-term adjustment is $3,473,211.

"Section one is revenue that may be cut," Whatley said.

Additional funding from the state's Quality Basic Education formula is subject to approval of the Georgia education budget by Gov. Sonny Perdue.

According to the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, the state can allocate 1 percent of the net revenue collections from the preceding year in the state mid-term adjustment for K-12 education.

Whatley said approximately $3.3 million is expected from the state's mid-term education adjustment, but it could be less.

"We won't know our allocation for 08-09, for sure, until the last two weeks in April," Whatley said.

Section II of the adjustment adds items already in place such as the purchase of the phone parent notification system, School Messenger, funds allotted to schools for enrollment increases and purchasing servers for the Versa Trans system.

"Of the additional funds expected for this year's operations, almost $1.2 million went toward salaries and benefits to pay teachers and other staff needed due to increased student enrollment and other requirements such as No Child Left Behind," said Whatley in a memo to the board members. "Another $1 million was expended on technology and related trailer moving expenses due to [NCLB school] choice and maximum class size."

Section III dealt with expenditures for summer maintenance of buildings and grounds and preparation for the new school year.

"The third section is several different kinds of expenditures," Whatley said, "the traditional things we have put in a mid-term adjustment, especially as we get ready to open a new school."

South Salem Elementary has a construction completion date of late May and is scheduled to open to students for the 2008-2009 school year.

Several allocations also were made to high school and middle school band and chorus programs.

The total additional expenditures are $3,338,395, which leaves $134,816 to be added with the budgeted contingency to the current ending fund balance of $9,493,870.

Associate Superintendent for Business and Administration Deborah Robertson said the board always budgets a contingency as a cushion.

"We need to maintain reserves," Robertson said, "especially when we're looking at a year when revenues are down."

In other news from Tuesday night's board meeting:

• Newton County juniors will take the Georgia High School Graduation Test the week of March 17-21. All students seeking a Georgia high school diploma must pass the four content areas of the test and the Georgia High School Writing Assessment in order to graduate. Multiple retest opportunities will be given.

• All Newton County third grade students will take a writing assessment March 17-28. Feedback will be provided to parents, students and teachers.

• Zoning lines for South Salem Elementary School, the county's 13th elementary school, are scheduled to be approved in late March or early April. Public meetings will be held before final adoption of the attendance lines. Letters of students assignments will likely be sent to parents and guardians in April.