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Looming state budget cuts may force a shift in focus
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With the Newton County School System now operating on the 2008-2009 budget, things may be a little tight for a while.

According to Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Linda Hayden, the county is currently looking into several areas to try and pinch funds including night school.

"The entire evening school program as it existed in the past is under review," Hayden said. "We are also reviewing programmatic issues such as relevance of content taught and alignment to the GPS. Classes will not be offered until the review can be completed."

The move would certainly save the county money as the NCSS has funded the evening classes for students seeking credit recovery. But like neighboring Rockdale County, who does not fund evening school, the time may be up on the after school program.

According to Board of Education Member Cathy Dobbs, the county is expecting some state cuts. But the exact amount won't be known right away.

"It's tough to plan because they (the state) won't let us know anything," Dobbs said. "It's frustrating. We still haven't heard anything about Clements (Middle School) either. We need to know some things so we can move forward."

Dobbs said the board will discuss several matters in next week's work session but emphasizes students will still be able to make up credits through NOVANet.

"We will have to wait and see but students will still be able to go online through NOVANet to do credit recovery," Dobbs said.

Old business

With the arrival of the new school year, the Newton County School System closes the book on 2007-2008 and looks ahead to new challenges.

The county wrote off a large surplus of old and unusable equipment including 13 busses. Two of the buses, the Board of Education decided to donate to the Newton County Emergency Management Agency.

According to NCEMA Director of Risk Management Jody Nolan, the agency hopes to host a bus extrication course that will train and familiarize emergency service personnel with how to safely extricate students in the event of a serious accident.

The agency made the request for the buses in June and the county was willing to oblige. According to the memo sent out by Superintendent Steve Whatley, the donated buses reached their life expectancy years ago. The county had originally planned for 10 years of service out the buses. At time of donation, the buses had been in service for 20 years.

Several projects also came to a close this summer and students will see new features in several schools.

Eastside sports new LED signs

Eastside High School received an infusion of technology over the summer and will sport two new light emitting diode signs that will be capable of scrolling bright messages including scheduled events.

The signs, one in front of the school on the corner of the eastern driveway and the other hanging in the atrium are of the main commons, were financed in part by the student council as well as the administrative staff.

The outdoor sign replaces the original marquee-style sign that required one person to manually attach letters and numbers to makeup the messages. The new sign is controlled inside and messages can be changed instantaneously.

The exterior sign will pay for itself. Principal Robert Daria said the school will sell ad space on the exterior sign in order to finance it and expects it to take two years to pay off. Afterward, the school will split the ad revenue among athletics and academic programs.

Site work at Alcovy complete

Workers laid fresh pavement and put the final touches including several pallets of sod on new site work at Alcovy High.

The project, which came out of the SPLOST fund, is a continuation of the original plans to build a 50-classroom wing on top of a practice gym.

The new wing is expected to be built next year and the practice gym will also serve as the physical education instructional facility. The main gym would be used primarily for in-season sports practices and games as well as special events such as graduations.

The site work included the relocation of power and water lines as well as the removal of the original driveway and the sidewalk area in front of the tennis court facility.

Newton High front offices, classrooms get facelift

New Principal Roderick Sams also gets a fresh looking school as several upgrades to the interior of the building were performed over the summer.

Sams, who arrived in June, was working out of one of the classrooms until work was completed last week.

Much of the carpet has been removed and replaced with vinyl composition tile and several areas received a fresh coat of paint.

District 3 Board of Education member Cathy Dobbs toured the facility on Wednesday and is pleased with the improvements.

"It looks very nice over there right now," Dobbs said. "They removed all of that old carpet and really made a difference with the new paint."