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What are your thoughts on school cuts?
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The search for $9 million in education cuts has begun in Newton County and School System Superintendent Dr. Gary Mathews has released a list of 13 potential cuts.

Some could save the system $200,000 while others could save $2 million.

The school system has placed a survey on its website and is asking residents to weigh in on the potential cuts and to offer ideas of their own. The survey can be found at the school system website, 


"Local revenue is projected to decline by an estimated $6.5 million for the school year 2011-12, and state revenue could decline by as much as $3.6 million," said Mathews in an e-mail. "Additionally ARRA funds used for school-based positions in the amount of $1.9 million will no longer be available… Per pupil revenues for school year 2011-12 are projected to be $1,732 less than they were in school year 2007-08," said Mathews.

"Given the previously announced projected NCSS deficit of $4.6 million," continued Mathews, "and the need to secure a positive fund balance of at least $4.4 million at the end of the 2011-12 school year, the system is still targeting a reduction of $9 million in expenses for 2011-12 despite the governor’s more


There are several ways money could be saved:

- Change high school scheduling from a six-period day to a seven-period day to include remediation and enrichment for students

This would save $2,820,000. It would eliminate 12 teaching positions at Eastside High, 17 at Newton High and 18 at Alcovy High, saving an estimated $60,000 in salaries and benefits for each of the 47 positions.

This would also allow for struggling students to have a "focus" period. Some students could take seven classes for credit and others could take six classes for credit with a "focus" period. Advance-level students could use a "focus" period to either study or to take an extra class.

- Contract with Ombudsman to provide a new alternative school option

This option would eliminate Sharp as the alternative school, saving $1,941,962. Ombudsman (a division of Education Services of America) would work with students now served in Sharp with a different program that would allow students to make up credits and focus on schoolwork, with the ultimate goal of going back to their home school and graduating.

- Three-tier student transportation

This option would change arrival and dismissal times for elementary, middle and high school students and would save $1,477,441. It would eliminate 44 bus driver positions, 25 substitute bus drivers, one mechanic, 27 bus monitor positions and reduce fuel consumption and fleet insurance.

- Eliminate 70, six-hour per day, regular education paraprofessionals at the elementary level

This could save $1,127,000.

- Reorganize and reduce maintenance and custodial staffs

Reduce custodial workdays by 10 days; eliminate three high school facility coordinator positions, downgrade three custodial positions at central office, service center and Mainstay from grades four through seven, and 29 custodial positions throughout the rest of the schools. This could save $954,000

- Reduce the school year by one day for students and employee workdays (non-school days) by one additional day

This could save $950,000. Employees would have their work year reduced a total of eight days (six of which have been reduced the past two years).

- Change the school schedule

Change to a four-day school week, or 156 school days (savings of $820,000)

Lengthen the school day by 42 minutes for elementary and 52 minutes for secondary, which would be 158 school days (savings of $750,000)

Lengthen the school day by 20 minutes for elementary and 28 minutes for secondary, for 169 school days (savings of $375,000)

- Eliminate 28 eight-hour per day, regular education paraprofessionals at the elementary level

This could save $582,400.

- Reduce the 1 percent board contribution to the 403b retirement plan for Teachers Retirement System employees to .5 percent

This could save $422,000.

- Eliminate two assistant principal positions

One position at Newton High and one at Alcovy High eliminated could save $215,000. It would leave four assistant principals at each of the high schools.

- Reduce school resource officers from 18 to 14

This would leave three officers at Alcovy and Newton, two at Eastside, one at Sharp (should it continue) and one at each middle school. This could save $171,428.

- 10 percent cut in all central office budgets

This would save $160,000.

- Combine Newton College and Career Academy CEO and Director of Career, Technical and Agriculture positions

If combined, this could save $65,000.

Central office cuts have been discussed in the past, but Mathews decided against including them in this round.

"Given the 14 central office and support position cuts over the past two schools years and the two downgrades, the system is now down to 19.5 central office administrators," said Mathews. "With approximately 19,500 students, that’s a ratio of one central office administrator per each 1,000 students."

Mathews noted that if the system’s revenue picture should improve, the board could restore items on short notice.