Mathews proposes to outsource alternative education, other cuts

Photo by Nate McCullough

Photo by Nate McCullough

COVINGTON -- The Newton County School System plans to outsource its alternative education services next school year to save money.

NCSS Superintendent Gary Mathews made the announcement Tuesday, when he met with Sharp Learning Center alternative school faculty, staff and administration to inform them that he will recommend budget cuts by contracting alternative education in NCSS with Ombudsman, a national provider of alternative education.

"We can and must do better for our alternative school students," Mathews said.

The company provides alternative education in more than 20 school

systems in Georgia and more throughout the United States.

He said NCSS staff visited three Ombudsman centers in Douglas County that helped confirm the quality of the program.

"I am of the view that we can actually improve the outcome for

alternative education students, while saving NCSS substantial dollars," Mathews said.

Previously, Mathews has said that NCSS could face up to a $15 million revenue loss and a nearly $5 million budget deficit for the 2011-12 school year.

More cuts include reduction of employee benefits, reduction of six employee work days, an increase in class sizes, cuts to central administration and supply reductions.

Other possible cuts include changing high school block scheduling to seven periods, changes to student transportation, the elimination of 70 paraprofessional positions, the reorganization of maintenance and custodial staff, the reduction of school days, reduction of central office budgets and the reduction of school resource officers and some high school assistant principals, among others.

A public forum discussing possible budget cuts that was scheduled for last week at Alcovy High School will be rescheduled. It was canceled due to school closings in the wake of last week's storm.

Later this month, school principals will survey school councils, which

generally are made up of business leaders, parents and employees.

They will rank the list of potential cuts and try to reach a consensus on

particular items. A PTO round-table discussion also is expected to be

held this month.

A survey also will be placed on the NCSS Web site,

www.newtoncountyschools.org, to gain input from the public about budget items and suggestions.

From there, the superintendent and his executive leadership team will consider items and make a list of tentative cuts, Mathews has said. He expects to present a proposal to the school board in February or March for the board to consider until April. The board is expected to approve a tentative budget in May and a final budget in June; school systems in Georgia have until May 15 to extend contracts to teachers.