Newton County School Superintendent Dr. Steve Whatley has announced the first round of personnel-related cuts, which he hopes will save the school system approximately $10 million, but will eliminate several teaching positions as well as middle school athletics.
In a memo sent to faculty and staff of the NCSS at 5 p.m. Friday afternoon, the superintendent announced that beginning July 1 (the start of the system’s Fiscal Year 2011 budget) the following cuts will go into effect.
Cuts to employee benefits include a reduction in the NCSS contribution to the 403b retirement plan from 3 percent to .5 percent, an elimination of the NCSS contribution to health insurance employee premium (effective December after open enrollment), elimination of the additional 403b contributions (beyond 6.5 percent or $33 a month) to employees covered by Public School Employees’ Retirement System (PSERS), and the attendance bonus program system-wide.
Reductions in staff include the elimination 80 instructional paraprofessionals at the elementary level, 14 part-time paraprofessionals at the elementary level, the graduation coach program at the high school level, 61.5 elementary teaching positions, 16 K-12 special education teaching positions, three high school guidance counselor positions, three high school clerical positions and reorganization and reduction of administrative/clerical staff in the Curriculum Department and the Operations Department.
Perhaps the most drastic measure announced is the eradication of middle school athletic programs.
But according to Whatley, this is just the first round of cuts and additional cuts may be needed. Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue and the legislature have yet to sign off on the official budget for next year and will not do so until April 29, the final day of the 2010 legislative session.
These cuts come on the heels of a vote by the school board to allow Whatley to look into positions that would need to be eliminated in order to make up for an anticipated deficit of $9.7 million in the FY11 budget. In addition to the cuts from the state, there has also been an estimated cut to the local tax revenue.
"The district’s administration and other stakeholder groups have developed a collective voice in speaking to our state’s legislators about the crippling effects of the state’s continuing underfunding of education and its effects on our local school district and community," reads the memo from Whatley. "Your voice also needs to be heard by those under the ‘Gold Dome.’"