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Our thoughts...Suggestions for schools
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We have been receiving numerous comments on our Web site, on our Facebook page as well as through e-mail about the Newton County School System cuts released by Superintendent Steve Whatley.

Interestingly enough the memo was sent out to faculty and staff at 5 p.m. on Friday, after teachers had left for the weekend. Although the school system was not kind enough to include our paper on the e-mail list, some school employees thought we should have it and were kind enough to pass it along. Other employees probably didn't even see Whatley's memo until they read the news in our Sunday edition.

When you have to cut more than $9 million dollars from a budget, especially one that affects the children of our community and is partially funded by local taxpayers, the process and the actions of making those cuts should be public.

As of press time, in order to obtain more detailed information from what we read in Whatley's memo, we have had to resort to requesting it through the Freedom of Information Act.

The memo also went out the weekend before students take the important CRCT tests and stood out as and ugly distraction in a week when students and teachers should be worried about the tests rather than if they would have a job or a chance to play sports.

We do have a few suggestions for Dr. Whatley and the lame-duck school board.

First, why not eliminate as many administrative positions as possible. Cuts in the state budget are coming from education because that's the biggest portion of the pie, so why not cut locally from the biggest portion of the pie - administrators' salaries.

The board can start with the excess number of assistant principals who are serving at each school. For example Newton High has six assistant principals. One of those assistant principals was moved from her principal position at a local middle school after it failed federally mandated Adequate Yearly Progress under her tenure every year since the law's inception. She has bounced from Alcovy as an assistant principal to Newton, where she makes more than $100,000 a year. For a little prespective, according to a Facebook post on our wall by one school offical, the middle school sports program also costs approximately $100,000 a year.

After researching just the high school administrators' salaries, we found that in FY09 principals made $301,413.95 and assistant principals made a total of $1,079,739.18. This is a conservative estimate since many of the current head principals were assistant principals in FYO9 or worked for a different school system. Their combined salaries alone amount to more than 10 percent of the proposed deficit.

Second, we all know that more cuts are coming. All middle school extracurriculars and arts programs are more than likely on the chopping block too. Why not save the money now and be fair? Why take away from the athletic students and not the artistic students, when we know what's coming?

Third, consider moving out of the Taj Mahal that serves as the district office, and use the extra space at the old Sharp High School located next door. The offices might not be as pretty but they would be functional. City of Covington utilities must be astronomical for that monstrosity.

These are just a few suggestions. We are more than sure we have intelligent people in our community who have some brilliant ideas about how to cut the fat without hurting the education of our children.

Dr. Whatley, please consider putting together a community group that is willing to work fast and in accord with you and your staff to make cuts that are beneficial, not hurtful.

Now is the time to use practical business sense, not academic sense.

If you have ideas on school budget woes, share them with us on, Facebook or e-mail them to We will be glad to share those thoughts with our readers.