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NCSS to rehire nurses

COVINGTON - Some school nurses in Newton County will be rehired pending approval by the Newton County Board of Education today.

During last Tuesday's work session, Newton County School System Superintendent Steven Whatley announced an additional $1,180,067 in projected local revenue. This is in addition to the $158,547,706 in revenue the board expected in May.

"When we built the budget over the months in the spring and adopted it on May 19 ... we did not have available the final tax digest - local revenue from ad valorem taxes. Thus, we built the budget based on an estimated local revenue for 2009 as we always initially do each year and took a conservative revenue approach," Whatley said Monday. "On May 26, Tommy Knight, chief tax appraiser (for Newton County), sent the computations we are to use for 2009 tax digest. That 2009 tax digest is used as revenue for the 2009-10 school year budget. Although the revenue from the 2009 net digest is well below the 2008 level, the amount we would receive is above what we originally built into our tentative 2009-10 budget as approved on May 19."

As a result, officials were able to reinstate $278,600 in expenditures to the 2009-10 school year budget that the board felt were important. In May, the board budgeted for $149,090,406 in expenditures.

The add-backs to the budget include expenditures for the rehiring of five nurses who were previously terminated, the allocation of graduation coaches at the middle schools, the salaries and benefits for a counselor at Sharp Learning Center, an extended day assignment of a college financial aid advisor at all three high schools, and a part-time paraprofessional at each elementary school.

In February, NCSS notified employees that it would reduce its staff with the elimination of 13 cafeteria monitors, 11 nurses, two college and financial aid advisors, and about 40 paraprofessionals, as well as the reduction of work days and salaries of eight graduation coaches.

With the add-backs, NCSS now has a net reduction of four nurses from the previous school year.

Although NCSS officials said the ending fund balance for both the 2008-09 and the 2009-10 school years was a moving target, they expect an ending fund balance of $10,358,767, or 6.49 percent, of the budget, which is less than the recommended 7 percent, Whatley said.

"This is a very tight budget," he said. "We will again go through another year of uncertainty and will be very zealous in monitoring this budget. ... The mind set will continue to be that we operate in an emergency mode and that just because it is budgeted, does not mean that it gets expended."

The Newton County BOE is expected to vote on the budget during its regular session monthly meeting at 7 p.m. today in the board room at the Newton County BOE building, which is located at 2109 Newton Drive N.E. in Covington. Until the board approves the final budget, the members can alter the tentative budget at any time.