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Our thoughts... Leadership in tough times
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There are tough budget times ahead for the Newton County School System, but its leaders seem up to the task.

Drops in the tax digest and state and federal revenues mean that the school system will have to lop $9 million or so from its budget for 2011-2012. The budget was already pared by $8 million this year, and further cuts are bound to hurt.

Superintendent Gary Mathews told local Kiwanis members as much this week: "I don’t find any of it something I would do by choice."

We don’t envy the superintendent, who took control of local schools this summer, and what he faces in dealing with a massive budget shortfall. But Mathews and company are doing the right and responsible thing, confronting the cuts head-on and involving the community in the process.

The budget won’t be set until May, but the school system is already laying the groundwork through a series of hearings and meetings beginning in January. The timetable from Mathews allows for input on cuts and priorities from school councils and principals, PTO representatives and public forums.

Mathews says the process will be open and real. He also says it will focus, as it should, on what’s best for the children.

We’re glad the school system recognizes the need to seek input from across the county: What happens in our public schools impacts us all in Newton County.

It’s refreshing to have a governmental entity that conducts the public’s business in public, and has its focus on finding solutions instead of posturing. It’s smart politics. Our Congressional leaders could benefit from a similar approach in reeling in the national deficit.