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School board looking into budget cuts
Board sets timeline to budget
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The Newton County Board of Education is taking steps to prepare for massive cuts expected for the 2011-2012 school year budget by setting a timeline for discussions leading up to the unveiling of the initial proposed budget in April.

Projected revenue losses for next year have the Newton County School System looking to trim $4.6 million to $9 million from its 2011-2012 budget.

"As I look at some of the budget reduction possibilities, along with our Executive Leadership Team, I do not see a single possible reduction that impresses me as something I/we would ‘want to do,’" said Mathews. "Some items are more palatable than others, but are still things we would not seek if we were not in a ‘must do’ situation."

According to a timeline released by Superintendent Dr. Gary Mathews, the board plans to allow each school council to provide budget reduction input, which will be shared with principals at a called meeting at 4 p.m. Jan. 10. Principals will then meet with their councils to go over budget reduction possibilities further, before submitting their final input to the board by Feb. 4.

A public forum will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 13 (location to be announced later), to gain input from the community on budget reductions.

On Feb. 7, PTO presidents and one other member of each school’s parent organization (as chosen by the PTO president) will attend a roundtable meeting on possible reductions.

The tentative budget reductions list will be released in March.

Mathews said in an e-mail that the goal is to have the board discuss the tentative reductions in April and adopt a tentative budget in May, with the final approval in June. For teachers, the release indicates that system officials do not plan to issue contracts prior to May.

Mathews said that the board will not "float items just to gain public attention or to rally the troops.

Whatever the outcome of this year’s budget process for 2011-12, we will still have children to teach, albeit more challenged than ever," said Mathews.

"We’re certainly hopeful that local, state, and federal funding sources for our school system improve in the next few months. However, we see nothing at present that tells us that this is likely or that our current budget predictions will be altered in significant ways. Second, we feel it is important to be transparent as to our projected status and to engage staff and community in this daunting task ahead as soon as January. Having been through four prior budget reductions, I can tell you that it feels like 44. That aside, it is what it is. And, as in my past experience, the primary objective has to be the education of our children. That’s where we must begin, even as we will adversely impact the plight of adults who serve our students."

A link for public input has been placed on the school system’s website at The board is asking that parents and members of the community give them their thoughts on the tentative budget and reductions.