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2012-13 school calendar approved
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The Newton County Board of Education approved the calendar for the 2012-13 school year Tuesday, and teachers will once again have six furlough days unless the budget is rosier than expected at the end of the year.

Each furlough day saves the school system $411,000 per year, and the board voted to have six teacher furlough days until it gets a clearer budget picture.

Teachers have four furlough days this year, because the board decided in late 2011 to help teachers by giving them back some of the $4 million in unexpected revenue the school system received.

The calendar calls for students to be in school 178 days and teachers to work 184 days. A normal full calendar would have 180-student days and 190-teacher days. Download the calendar at

School officials want to wait to see if they’ll have to pay for in health insurance costs this year, as preliminary estimates project a $1 million increase in costs next fiscal year.

While teachers would take a small step back, the school system as a whole may not have to make any further cuts to its budget next year.

Superintendent Gary Mathews said in January that he wanted to avoid budget cuts for 2012-13 because he hoped the economy and tax revenues would improve. However, school officials expect state and federal revenues to decline.

Dennis Carpenter, deputy superintendent of operations, said Tuesday that tax collections were up in December. The latest education SPLOST brought in just more than $1 million, the highest collection in 24 months. Property tax revenues were up 10 percent from the same time last year, Carpenter said.

As of January, the school system was projected to spend $131.6 million this school year, about $1 million more than the projected revenue and down from $133.4 million last year.

In other school news, the school system continues to sell off portable classrooms. Carpenter said 33 have been sold to date and another 11 are being advertised on Five more will likely be sold in the future. The classrooms are going for around $3,500 a piece.

Carpenter said he was worried about rising gas prices, which could reach $4 a gallon, but the school system is hoping to see savings on the diesel fuel and unleaded gasoline contract it signed Tuesday. The school will contract with Petroleum Traders Corporation out of Fort Wayne, Ind., which works around the county including with MARTA. Prices are based on oil prices and the companies then charge a markup. Petroleum Traders had the lowest markup rate. The contract is estimated to cost $1.43 million.

Board Chairman Eddie Johnson said he was very impressed with the school system’s alternative learning service, Ombusdman, and has also heard positive comments from parents. The school system contracted this school year with the company, which is replaced Sharp Learning Center.