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Education budget woes plague state
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Money remains tight for education from the state, and there’s little likelihood that Newton County schools will see any relief from budget cuts for next year, according to Superintendent Dr. Gary Mathews.

Although Gov. Nathan Deal had previously said in a speech that his budget would "end teacher furloughs and keeps students in school for a full school year," that may not hold true for Newton County, Mathews said.

"State funding under Deal’s budget plan wouldn’t change much for this year, when districts laid off staff, made teachers take days off without pay and reduced the number of instruction days," said Mathews in an e-mail. "Federal funding for schools will plummet."

Deal spokesman Brian Robinson said in an interview with the Atlanta Journal Constitution that school districts that saved some federal stimulus money from this year "should be OK" next year, but Mathews noted that Newton County has already taken that money into account for the coming school year and it won’t prevent the $9 million budget reduction facing the system.

Newton County has reduced its budget by $18.3 million over the last three school year budgets, according to Mathews. Additionally, officials from the county tax assessor office have confirmed that the county will see a loss.

"The Newton County tax assessor has confirmed on several occasions that NCSS can anticipate a loss of approximately $6.5 million in local revenue for our public schools in 2011-12."

The county also currently has six teacher furlough days, but Mathews warned that the possibility is there to increase that to seven or eight days of 2011-12 "if the administration recommends and BOE approves one of the possible reductions on the budget survey just completed."

The school board has a work session planned for Feb. 25 to discuss potential budget cuts and plans to have a tentative budget done no later than May. They are set to approve the final budget in June.