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School board to meet tonight

Photo by Howard Reed

Photo by Howard Reed

COVINGTON -- The Newton County Board of Education is expected to make many decisions regarding multi-million-dollar budget cuts at tonight's work session.

The school board is expected to take action on eight recommended items for the 2011-12 budget year, according to its agenda. The Newton County School System is proposing that the school board make nearly $9 million in cuts this year to make up for expected lost revenue from the local, state and federal levels -- up to a $6.5 million reduction from local tax revenue, $2 million to $3 million from state revenues and $1.9 million or more from the federal government.

Items on the table for tonight's meeting include:

* Change high school scheduling to a seven-period day to include remediation or enrichment for students for $2,820,000 in savings.

* Contract with Ombudsman to provide a new model for alternative education in NCSS for $1,941,962 in savings. This would replace the current Sharp Alternative School program.

* Reorganize and reduce maintenance and custodial staffs for $954,000 in savings.

* Reduce the 1 percent board contribution to the 403(b) retirement plan for Teachers Retirement System employees to 0.5 percent for $422,000 in savings.

* Eliminate two assistant principal positions, one each at Newton and Alcovy High Schools, for $215,000 in savings and leaving each high school with four each.

* Reduce the number of school resource officers from 18 to 14, leaving three each at Alcovy and Newton high schools and two at Eastside for $171,428 in savings; removing another from the Sharp program if the board approves the Ombudsman program would save an additional $42,857.

* Require a 10 percent cut in all central office budgets for $160,000 in savings.

* Combine the Newton College and Career Academy CEO and the director of Career, Technical and Agriculture Education positions for $65,000 in savings.

The school board already has approved NCSS to implement a three-tier student transportation system for $1,477,441 in savings.

NCSS administration previously proposed that the school board eliminate 28 eight-hour per-day regular education instructional paraprofessional positions at the elementary schools -- which would be two or three paraprofessionals per school -- for $582,400 in savings; however, the item is not part of tonight's agenda.

Also during tonight's work session, the school board is expected to vote on a calendar for next school year. Most of the school board members, as well as NCSS Superintendent Gary Mathews, preferred a calendar option with a shortened fall break, a week-long Thanksgiving break and a two-week-long winter holiday break.

In the proposed calendar, the first day of school for students is scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 4, and the last day for them would be Wednesday, May 23; several day-long breaks also are spread throughout the school year.

Additionally, board members are scheduled to discuss tonight the naming of the county's newest elementary school, which is currently being built on Airport Road.

Last year, NCSS proposed the name Palmer Stone Elementary School be transferred to the new school, since a large portion of its population will attend the school. However, the school board voted down the proposal and decided to table it until this year, when the board would be comprised of three new members.

Earlier this month, community members were given the opportunity to provide their suggested names.

At tonight's meeting, the board members are expected to discuss the suggested names for the new school and narrow the list of choices to no more than six names. The board will vote on a name during its regular session meeting, which is set for March 15.

Also on the agenda is discussion of items relative to the purchase of furniture for the new school, a maintenance agreement and a policy revision for acceptable computer use. Those items are scheduled to be discussed at tonight's work session and voted on during the regular session meeting on March 15.

Meetings are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. in the board room at the Newton County BOE building at 2109 Newton Drive N.E. in Covington.