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Schools facing budget cuts
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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, according to a release from Superintendent Gary Mathews.

"From my seat, it would not be financially sound to end the 2011-12 school year with a deficit of $4.6 million or a fund balance of zero," according to Mathews in the release on Tuesday. "Thus, unless our revenue picture improves, it appears that the actual budget cuts will approach $9 million for the 2011-12 budget year."

The system is projecting a $15 million loss in revenues for next school year.

Stress on the budget stems from several sources.

Newton County's tax digest is expected to decrease 15 percent for Fiscal Year 2012. That is projected to mean a $6.5 million in lost revenue for the school system.
The system is also projecting a decline in state and federal funding.

For example, cuts of 2 to 4 percent to Quality Basic Education funding from the Georgia Department of Education will cost Newton County $1.8 to $3.6 million, according to the release. A decline in enrollment in county schools will result in $1.2 million less in state funds, according to Mathews.

Mathews reports that it's unlikely Newton County will receive any new federal money in the next fiscal year, and that the system will also lose $1.975 million in grants that paid for teachers, paraprofessionals and other personnel.

Some positions will have to be cut because of the enrollment decline, but the school system is also projecting adding $400,000 in expenses with the opening of the Newton Career Academy in January 2012, he said.

The school system estimates that it will have a $4.6 million deficit at the end of the 2012 school year. Depending on how much of the ending fund balance the system maintains, that could mean a cut of $4.6 to $9 million from the 2012 fiscal year budget.