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Flow of state money to schools still slow
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An update on the school system's budget projections shows that while Newton County is in good shape, money is still slow to come in at a state level, and that cuts are still going to be made, most likely for the 2013-14 school year.

The Quality Basic Education funds were received (preliminarily) in May. However, an equalization grant increased, as did QBE training and experience. According to budget projections released by the school system, they have been told to prepare for a 4 percent cut in those funds.

The cost of textbooks has also gone up. While the Newton County Board of Education budgeted for them, the cost went up more than $300,000. Also, state health benefits for classified employees began to rise in September 2011 and will continue to do so.

In June, the system learned that the final tax digest was more than expected. But the Newton County Tax Appraiser has warned that the digest could loose another 10-11 percent in 2012-13 and tax revenues for the 2013-14 year have been reduced by 10 percent.

"The projected expenditures for FY 2013-2014 have been updated to reflect the current proposed budgeted expenditures for FY 2012-2013 plus expected increased textbook costs which are now estimated to be $180,400 more than 2013-2013. The additional $1,026,000 in health insurance costs is also added as well as expected increased costs of $382,000 (for the Newton College and Career Academy) and $142,000 (for the Newton County Theme School at Ficquett). The revenues for FY 2013-2014 are also changed to reflect the proposed budgeted FY 2012-2013 revenues with no change for FY 2013-2014," according to a release from the NCSS.

"We would need to cut $7,254,505 from the 2014-2015 budget to maintain a minimal fund balance of $4,461,865 (3.2 percent of the total budget)," reads the report. "Various experts throughout the state have recommended that we maintain a fund balance of at least 7 percent of budget which would amount to $9,717,095. We would have to cut a total of $12,509,735 to meet this recommendation."