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NCSS employees informed of possible lay offs
BOE facing possible $8 million budget shortfall
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A plan to help alleviate the pinch felt by the school system began with meetings held Friday to inform those who could be affected by the personnel cuts that they may need to make plans to start the 2009-2010 school year elsewhere.

The school system announced their plans for personnel cuts at their meeting Tuesday night as part of an effort to add more than $4 million to a slimmed down budget.

A release by the school system late Friday afternoon announced that the system's planned reductions for the next school year would include the elimination/reduction of selected system level positions, which would reduce the amount spent by $353,341; the elimination/reduction of selected classified positions, which will reduce the amount spent by $1,786,200; the elimination/reduction of less than full-time certified positions, which would add $1,101,953 to the budget; a elimination/reduction of selected certified full-time positions, which will add $767,701 to the budget and a reduction of the use of substitutes, which will add $200,000 to the budget. The total amount the plan will save the system is $4,209,195. Some employee classifications will see a reduction in work days as well.

The decision to make the cuts comes after administrators put together a leadership team to look over what could be done to help offset the shortfall of more than $11 million which is expected by June 2010.

"The school district incurred slightly more than $1 million in austerity reductions from the state in its initial FY 2009 funding," read a release from the NCSS.

"Throughout the school year, representatives from both the Georgia School Superintendents' Association and the State Department of Education have warned that an additional $2.5 million in state cuts should be anticipated. And this is just for the current fiscal year."

The NCSS is also working under the assumption that it will face roughly $3 million in cuts in 2010. System officials have also been warned, according to the press release, to expect an estimated $3.6 million decrease in local property tax revenue due to a decrease in the tax digest and the new senior citizen exemption. There is also a projected $1 million decrease in "other local revenues" expected.

"We have a threefold responsibility to our students' education, to our employees, and to the taxpayers," said Dr. Steve Whatley, Newton County School Superintendent. "The difficulty of balancing the fulfillment of this responsibility comes when reductions in programs and services are necessitated by losses in revenue. We now find ourselves in such a situation. Making these cuts causes major concerns for our employees' welfare and we are sensitive of their needs."

NCSS officials added that there are no guarantees further personnel reductions will not be made in the future. According to the press release all positions in the district will remain on the table for review should additional eliminations or reductions be deemed necessary.

"Newton County Schools cares about each of its employees and the value that they add to our school system," said Dennis Carpenter, associate superintendent for human resources. "We are concerned about the personal implications that these budget reductions could have on our employees and the impact that these reductions could have on the level of service provided to our students and other stakeholders. At the same time, it is important for all employees and the general public to know that even in the midst of unprecedented reductions in funding, we are committed to offering an educational program now and in the coming school years that meets the needs of every student in our district. Furthermore the district is committed to re-employing faculty and staff members, impacted by the budget reductions announced today, as positions for which they are qualified become available in the future through attrition."