NCSS: No budget surprises coming

Photo by Howard Reed

Photo by Howard Reed

COVINGTON -- Officials at the Newton County School System aren't expecting any surprises this week when state budget allocations for next school year are released.

The Georgia Department of Education is expected to release allocations today, and Scott Austensen, deputy superintendent for Finance and Business Operations at the GaDOE, told superintendents last week that systems should expect no surprises when they are released, given what the media have already reported in terms of K-12 budgets.

"He confirms additional contributions that systems would have to make for classified employee health insurance as well as a 1 percent reduction in the state's basic funding formula for public schools," Gary Mathews, superintendent of NCSS, said in an email to staff on Wednesday.

Mathews said that would confirm the $8.2 million in recent cuts made by the Newton County Board of Education for next school year.

This week, NCSS principals distributed teacher contracts for the 2011-12 school year. The state requires systems in Georgia to issue contracts by May 15.

Mathews said contracts are to be returned by May 4 or otherwise become void.

He recommends that no more cuts come to certified personnel. However, he plans to not replace Linda Hayden, associate superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction, who is retiring at the end of this school year. Instead, he plans to reorganize the department using existing personnel.

He said some cuts may still come to noncertified personnel next school year.

"We should know specifics in the next week or so," he said.

Already, NCSS is planning to use less high school staff when new scheduling and the number of assistant principals change next school year. Maintenance, custodial and transportation staff also are reduced next school year.

The school board is expected to approve a tentative budget in May and a final budget in June

Afterward, Mathews plans to look at the following two school years to get a "heads up," he said.

"I'm praying for a huge come back for the economy," he said. "But whatever the case, we will need to be ready with eyes wide open and with budget numbers in the public domain."