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NCSS, BOE eye brick stamps for project funding

COVINGTON - With a tight budget year and increasing state budget cuts, officials at the Newton County School System and members of the Board of Education are constantly looking for new ways to save money and help reduce costs.

This year, they have introduced recycling programs that could help reduce the school system's carbon footprint and also could help save the system thousands of dollars over several years. They also are using an online auction site, www.GovDeals.com, which has generated nearly $30,000 since March from the sale of surplus items.

Now the board and system personnel are discussing ways to earn more money to help pay for revisions and a new field house at Sharp Stadium, which is expected to be completed by August.

During its September work session, board members discussed the possibility of selling brick stamps for the stadium project.

Board member C.C. Bates initially suggested the idea, stating she spoke to an accreditation team member from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools when the organization was in town reviewing the school system for district accreditation in late August.

She reported that he said a new elementary school in his district made about $70,000 from the sale of brick stamps.

Board member Cathy Dobbs said several schools in the Newton County school district have been successful with similar projects and suggested that families or other community members could add a student's name, graduation year and sports teams to the bricks.

"We want to think outside the box a little bit," Dobbs said.

Board members also brought up the option that the money could be used for startup funds or seed money for the district's Education Foundation, which the board has discussed several times this year to fund special projects and involve community members with the school system through the collection of private and corporate funding.

Deborah Robertson, associate superintendent for administration at NCSS, said school principals and an architect have discussed initial plans for the stadium's field house and will meet again as plans progress. The board will review the plans before they are finalized, she said.

Robertson said the school system originally had planned to replace the stadium's visitor bleachers this summer but may have to hold off until the summer 2010 if local revenues do not support the project, as no state funding is set aside for the work.

Some board members were not happy with this report.

"I'm going to be very disappointed if we don't do the visitor stands in 2009," board member Johnny Smith said.

In other school construction projects, Robertson also reported that the construction of the new elementary school on Kirkland Road is on schedule to be complete in time for the 2009-10 school year.

She also said the school system architect is reviewing expansion possibilities for the band room at Eastside High School that could be completed by 2010.

Michelle Floyd can be reached at michelle.floyd@newtoncitizen.com.