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Our thoughts... Education costs
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Newton School Superintendent Gary Mathews faces some tough decisions this year as he has to lead the school system through an extremely painful round of budget cuts, paring at least $9 million from an already lean budget. He’s set to release a list of potential cuts on Monday, but it’s not as if he’s been atop Mount Sinai and returned with a decree etched in stone.

What comes out Monday are proposals, subject to modification through a very public vetting process that includes principals, school councils and the general public. A public forum is set for Thursday.

That’s exactly what we expect from Mathews, who in his short tenure has set a tone as being upfront and open in conducting the public’s business. We applaud his frankness and leadership style.

Mathews had done the math, and the numbers are adding up, but not in his favor, or ours.

Newton County could meet its budget by slashing $4.6 million from its budget and drawing its reserve fund down to zero. That would be asking for trouble, though.

As we reported in Friday’s edition of the newspaper, it costs $568,138 a day, or $11.4 million a month to keep the school system running. With nothing in reserve, even a minor unexpected expense could set off a financial landmine.

That’s why $4.4 million in additional cuts need to be made now, so the schools will have something set aside for an emergency.

Mathews has educated us well in terms of explaining what’s at stake and what’s coming. The work is about to get a lot harder, but we can take comfort in Mathews having laid out a good lesson plan to follow.