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NCSS anticipates a deficit in two years
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Budget season is around the corner for many organizations and though the Newton County School System has not released its official budget for the 2013-2014 school year, officials are predicting a nearly $3 million deficit for the 2014-2015 school year.

The system’s general fund could have a deficit of $2,836,696 by the end of the 2014-15 school year with the Newton County tax assessor projections showing a 6 to 7 percent drop in the local tax digest, according to Superintendent Gary Mathews’ End-of-Month Notes released on Thursday.

Mathews said unless some unexpected increase in revenue occurs, NCSS’s general fund budget will be sorely pressed with the deficit.

“NCSS would need to reduce its 2014-15 budget by $7,298,561 in order to retain a “minimalist” fund balance of a mere 3 percent of the total budget (or $4,461,865),” Mathews said.

“State experts have previously recommended a fund balance of at least 7 percent of the total budget —or $9,849,465 in the case of NCSS’s 2014-15 budget. The national economic meltdown — reflected locally — has prevented a 7 percent fund balance to say the least.”

According to NCSS projections, this year’s budget is expected to end at $13,628,766. However, during the 2013-2014 school year, the ending fund balance would fall to $5,972,035.

Projections show that total revenues next school year will increase to $131,897,912, compared to the $130,493,673 expected for this school year. Expenditures would increase to $139,554,643 next school year, up from the $135,514,243 this year.

In January, members of the Board of Education approved a tentative budget calendar and superintendent Gary Mathews and staff are currently compiling a preliminary budget, according to BOE Chair Abigail Coggin. 

The preliminary budget will be brought to the BOE at the April 16 meeting.  Coggin said at that point the superintendent will work with his staff to finalize the tentative budget, which will be presented to the BOE on May 14.

In May, the board will hold work sessions as needed to discuss the budget. A tentative budget is scheduled to be adopted on May 21. The BOE may hold work sessions again to discuss the tentative budget if necessary. 

The final budget should be up for adoption at the BOE’s June 25 meeting, Coggin said.