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BOE tentatively approves 2012 budget

Photo by Howard Reed

Photo by Howard Reed

COVINGTON -- The Newton County Board of Education is moving forward with its budget for the 2011-12 school year.

After officials at the Newton County School System presented next school year's tentative general fund budget at the board's work session last week, the school board unanimously approved the tentative budget with no further discussion at its regular monthly meeting on Tuesday.

In the tentative plan, NCSS Superintendent Gary Mathews is proposing a $138,630,061 budget, including $131,158,750 in expenditures and $7,471,311 to be held in reserves. Next school year is expected to start with at least an $11 million beginning fund balance carried over from this school year.

The budget is $5,992,400, or 4.37 percent, less than this school year's operating budget, according to Dennis Carpenter, deputy superintendent for Operations at NCSS.

NCSS estimates local revenue for next year to be at $49,827,256, including the beginning fund balance, or nearly 36 percent of the budget. It is expected to receive $88,802,805 in state resources, which is more than 64 percent of the budget.

Major expenditures in the budget include $112,255,830 in salaries and benefits, which makes up more than 85 percent of the budget, as well as more than $5 million for utilities and fuel, $5.7 million for repairs and maintenance, $2.3 million in instructional textbooks and supplies, more than $500,000 in equipment and furniture and nearly $5.3 million in other departments, like professional learning, insurance, professional services and fees.

The budget is expected to support student enrollment between 18,520 and 19,960, compared to the approximately 19,100 students currently enrolled in NCSS. This estimate includes about 9,000 elementary school students, about 4,500 middle school students and about 5,500 high school students.

The staff expected to support student enrollment totals 2,348 school- and system-level employees, which is nearly 230 employees fewer than the current school year. The totals include 2,038 school-level positions, or nearly 140 positions less than this year, and 309 system-level positions, or 89 less than the current school year.

Major staff cuts include 47 teacher positions at the high school level due to a change in high school scheduling, more than 40 bus drivers and dozens of other transportation staff due to a change in bell schedules and bus routes and about 50 staff at Sharp Learning Center, which will be outsourced with the development of an Ombudsman alternative school program.

The maintenance and operations millage rate is expected to stay maxed out at 20 mills, but the current 1 mill rate for debt services is expected to increase to 1.12. Carpenter said it is expected to increase because the value of a mill continues to decrease, and NCSS should know if that increase is final in late July once hearing from the local tax assessors office.

The school board is expected to approve a final budget in June. The board is scheduled to meet June 7 for a work session and June 14 for its regular monthly meeting. They are both 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.