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Schools may face more cuts

COVINGTON -- After the release of Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue's proposed budget last week, the Newton County School System is bracing itself for even more cuts for this school year.

On Wednesday, NCSS Superintendent Steven Whatley sent out a letter to NCSS families and also posted a notice on the NCSS Web site, www.newtoncountyschools.org, that warned of the possibility of more state cuts for this school year.

"The Newton County School System is currently studying the governor's proposal that calls for an additional 3 percent cut in K-12 funding for the current Fiscal Year 2010 budget, which ends this June 30," Whatley said in the letter. "The governor's recommendation also includes a requirement for three additional furlough days before June 30."

Already many NCSS employees have been furloughed three days and administrators four days; NCSS also has had its state revenues reduced by $2.7 million this fiscal year. During Tuesday's Newton County Board of Education meeting, Whatley said this could mean an additional cut of between $2 and $3 million in state revenues.

"These cuts have caused the school system to make reductions in personnel; increase some class sizes; reduce funding for instructional textbooks, materials and supplies; and reduce benefits for employees," Whatley said. "We are working to determine what further implications these cuts have for this year's budget. We also are working on the revised work calendar to designate the three additional days of furlough and the schedule for payroll reductions."

Whatley said 59 percent of the NCSS revenue comes from the state.

"There are other aspects of the proposed (state) budget that could further affect us," Whatley said. "These recommendations by the governor indicate the severity of the ongoing budget crisis facing our state and public education. As with any budget proposal, the Legislature will consider the governor's recommendations and likely make changes in the budget before it is finally approved."

The school board is expected to approve a final budget for the 2010-11 school year on June 15.

"Even in these challenging economic times, the students of the Newton County Schools will remain our focus in decision making and preparation for academic achievement," Whatley said.