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Education cuts in Newton similar to other districts
Tuesday BOE meeting moved to another location
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The Newton County School System is being forced to cut nearly $10 million from it's Fiscal Year 2011 budget in order to make up for a deficit, but they aren't the only ones. Surrounding counties are being forced to cut programs and positions as well in order to make up for a drop in both funding from the state and local tax revenue.

Rockdale County Public Schools are looking to cut nearly $9 million from their budget. They plan to do that by increasing the teacher to student ratio by 0.8 students per class which would reduce the number of teachers needed by about 30. Superintendent Dr. Samuel King said that the county should be able to do that through attrition (through retirement and resignations) without eliminating teachers, something that Newton County plans to do as well to eliminate the 61.5 elementary positions and 16 special education positions that are recommended.

Social Circle City Schools Superintendent Dr. Bettye Ray said that they were forced to make cuts as well, including two positions in primary, three in middle and 5.5 at the high school level. They also eliminated two programs in the high school, construction and pre-engineering. They are also looking at the possibility of privatizing their custodial staff.

Neither school system has proposed cutting any arts or athletics programs, while Newton County hopes to save over $100,000 by eliminating middle school athletics. According to Dr. Dennis Carpenter, Deputy

Superintendent for Operations at the NCSS, cuts are being seen at the administrative level as well at the savings of more than $1 million.

“Although district level administrative cuts for FY11 have not been completely detailed and all impacted employees have not been notified, we expect the district’s reorganization at the central office level, effective July 1, 2010, to reduce over $500,000 from the budget,” said Carpenter.

Carpenter also said that they had cut several positions at central office prior to these proposed cuts. Middle school curriculum director, central office receptionist, human resources clerk, centralized registration clerk, staff development technology instructor, pupil services technology specialist, .51 of a construction manager position and a special education routing position. He said these cuts will save the system $507,000 annually.

“When you combine these two figures, you will notice that this accounts for more than $1 million dollars in salary and benefits cuts at the central office level within the last year. All of this has and is being done in preparation for FY11 and in an attempt alleviate, to the greatest extent possible, the school level burden of this financial crisis,” said Carpenter.

A Facebook group calling themselves Save Newton County Teachers and Middle School Sports, with over 3,000 members is planning a protest of the Board of Education meeting Tuesday night to show their displeasure for the proposed budget cuts. They have received a permit from the Covington Police Department and have a section in the parking lot of the central office building set aside to march in, according to Joy Daniel Cason, the groups creator. This is the only group thus far who has legally been permitted to protest.

The protest is scheduled for 6-9 p.m. with a prayer at 5:30 p.m. Those interested in speaking at the BOE meeting must sign up prior to 7 p.m. and in accordance with the board's public participation policy “a maximum time of five minutes will be allotted to a single individual or a single topic based on the number of requests... Once the time for public participation has passed, discussion of topics will be restricted to Board members only.”

Personal attacks on board members are not permitted and will not be heard unless a request is submitted to the superintendent at least seven days prior to the event.

The BOE meeting will take place at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the auditorium of Alcovy High School.