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BOE to hold called budget meeting
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A special called-meeting to discuss the 2012-13 budget is scheduled for Tuesday at the Newton County Board of Education right before their monthly meeting at 5 p.m.

The board got their first peek at the tentative general fund budget at their May 8 work session. While not as bleak as expected this time last year, the budget is still not in great shape.

"...The projected ending fund balance for 2013-14 is much more optimistic than what we have thought previously," said Superintendent Gary Mathews in an email following the meeting Tuesday night. "That said... we would need to cut $1,662,518 from the 2013-14 budget to maintain a minimal fund balance of $4,461,865 (3.26 percent of the total budget). Various experts throughout the state have recommended that we maintain a fund balance of 7 percent which would amount to $9,595,575. We would have to cut a total of $6,796,228 to meet this recommendation [which I believe is unrealistic given multi-million dollar cuts to date]. As I've suggested previously, with the economy so uncertain, I am urging the board to require no substantial budget reductions heading into the coming 2012-13 fiscal year in an effort to avoid substantial cuts - if any cuts - in the 2013-14 fiscal year. We need some time, and I believe it is prudent to take some time, to see how the economy develops between now and Fiscal Year 2013-14."

The board is scheduled to meet at 5 p.m. May 15 to discuss the budget before moving into the regularly scheduled meeting at 7 p.m., where they will vote of the matters discussed May 8. These meetings are open to the public.

In other BOE news:
• Special Local Options Sales Tax collections for March were at the second highest total monthly collection behind last December. In March the NCSS collected $973,794 compared with $867,463 the month before. In December, the highest collection month, they collected over $1 million. Per state law, SPLOST funds can be used only for construction of new facilities, renovation of existing facilities, lease of buses, technology, reduction in debt service and other building-related expenses.

• Board members also heard a presentation regarding SpringBoard, the College Board's curricula and textbook product for English/language arts and mathematics. The cost for both English and math texts is $346,000. The product is written by teachers for teachers and increases the level of rigor in curriculum and instruction to match that of the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards. The program begins in sixth grade and is designed to help prepare students even further for their post-secondary education.