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Superintendent readies $9 million in cuts
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With the Newton County School System facing at least $9 million in budget reductions for the 2011-2012 school year, it was inevitable that cuts will have to be made. Superintendent Dr. Gary Mathews is set to release a list of these potential cuts on Jan. 10 and has warned that more may be necessary.

"Our budget reduction target for 2011-12 is $9 million. This is on top of the approximate $8 million in cuts impacting the current 2010-11 budget," said Mathews in his end of month notes for December. "NCSS has failed to receive $30,259,307 in state aid since 2005 per Georgia's own Quality Basic Education (QBE) formula. And, since 2008, our school system has made $18.3 million in budget cuts. Lack of basic state funding and necessitated local budget cuts have most definitely impacted the overall quality of education here and elsewhere and continue to hover over the future."

Mathews has been vocal about his concerns for the school system and the necessity of further cuts, including some to personnel, which, along with health insurance, is more than 87 percent of the system's budget.

According to a timeline released by Mathews, the board plans to allow each school council to provide budget reduction input, which will be shared with principals at a called meeting on Jan. 10. Principals will then meet with their school councils to go over budget reduction possibilities further. A public forum will be held on Jan. 13 to gain input from the community on budget reductions.

"Some of the items found on the list are certainly more palatable than others," warned Mathews. "Yet, they are still things we would not seek if we were not in a "must do" situation... We will need real feedback and real possibilities. We will not float items just to gain public attention or to rally the troops, so to speak."

Mathews said that he hoped to give board members a proposed list of cuts in February or March for the board to consider until April. The board is scheduled to approve a tentative budget in May and vote in June.

"None of these decisions are easy," said Mathews. "But we are trying to be as transparent as we can in a very difficult budget scenario."