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Tax digest suggests more school funding
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If predictions from the county's chief tax appraiser come true, the Newton County School System could see an increase of about $2 million in the 2011-12 school year.

According to an announcement made by Deputy Superintendent for Operations Dennis Carpenter at Tuesday's board of education work session, Chief Tax Appraiser Tommy Knight announced at a recent board of commissioners meeting that the county may have a less than expected loss in the tax digest. This could allow the school system to end up with an additional $2.1 million.

Knight urged caution, saying that tax appraisal appeals are pending - some from large commercial and industrial accounts.

"I'm not ready to urge any kind of new spending to the board of education at this time. Things are still too much in flux," said Superintendent Gary Mathews in an email.

"If, following resolution of the various tax appraisal appeals, NCSS does end up with an additional $2.1 million or so, it would be wise to apply these dollars to the deficit we're projecting for the 2013-14 school year. As the status quo stands now, short of new revenue, as the chart suggests, NCSS would need to cut approximately $6.8 million from the 2013-14 budget to maintain a ‘minimalist' fund balance of $4.4 million," he said.

Mathews has been open about the dire straits of the school system's budget. Deep cuts have already been made to the 2011-12 budget, and if both revenue and spending remain the same over the next several years, the 2015 school year could see the system more than $2 million in the red.

"We hope for good financial news going forward," said Mathews. "But, we must be more cautious as to what the actual news may be going into the 2013-14 school year. I would like to avoid any further reduction-in-force if at all possible. Any additional revenue will certainly help with this goal."