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Schools to slash positions

COVINGTON - Officials at the Newton County School System met with more than 500 staff members Friday to inform them that some positions in their departments would be reduced or eliminated next school year.

Stemming from reduced state funding this year and even more expected reductions from state and local revenue in the future, the school system expects to cut $4,209,195 from the upcoming school year budget by reducing staff.

"We have a threefold responsibility - to our students' education, to our employees and to the taxpayers," Superintendent Steve Whatley said in a press release Friday. "The difficulty of balancing the fulfillment of this responsibility comes when reductions in programs and services are necessitated by losses in revenue. We now find ourselves in such a situation. Making these cuts causes major concerns for our employees' welfare and we are sensitive of their needs."

Dennis Carpenter, associate superintendent for Human Resources at NCSS, said Monday that officials met with 507 employees Friday to discuss the cuts in their departments.

The system will reduce its part-time certified positions by more than $1.1 million, or about 50 counselors, teachers and other employees. Carpenter said the school system plans to eliminate the practice of using part-time employees. Instead, the principals and HR department will consider the qualified employees who wish to stay at NCSS for full-time positions as they become available in their areas of training.

NCSS also will reduce its classified and certified full-time personnel to but more than $2.5 million. This includes 13 cafeteria monitors, 11 out of 22 nurses, two college and financial aid advisors and about 40 paraprofessionals. The work days and salaries of the eight graduation coaches also will be reduced. Carpenter said the areas that are cut or reduced will be consolidated and reworked to give the duties to other employees.

"Everybody is having to do more with less," he said.

Additionally, the school system will reduce its central office funding by $353,341. Carpenter said three and a half positions have been eliminated and one has been reduced from full-time to part-time, but he would not comment on the individuals or positions because "they are individual people and individual positions," he said.

NCSS also plans to reduce the use of substitutes by $200,000.

Carpenter said any person whose position will be reduced or eliminated will be considered for another position in the school system if they are qualified and certified for it and if they wish to stay at NCSS; principals will receive a spreadsheet of those employees who do not intend to leave the school system and must consider those people for positions that they qualify for before any other candidates.

"Newton County Schools cares about each of its employees and the value that they add to our school system," Carpenter said in a press release. "We are concerned about the personal implications that these budget reductions could have on our employees and the impact that these reductions could have on the level of service provided to our students and other stakeholders. ... The district is committed to reemploying faculty and staff members, impacted by the budget reductions announced today, as positions for which they are qualified become available in the future through attrition."

Carpenter said he anticipates having vacancies in some critical areas like math, science and special education, so NCSS will hold a job fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. March 14 at Eastside High School.

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