COVINGTON -- Newton County School System Superintendent Gary Mathews doesn't want to make any drastic budget cuts next school year, like this year, but furlough days are still under discussion.
During the Newton County Board of Education's monthly work session Tuesday, Mathews said the system will remain cautious with all of the uncertainties in state and local revenues, but he doesn't plan to make drastic cuts for next school year.
"We could take the coming year and see how things shake out," he told school board members. "I think we should give ourselves some time and have a more constant and productive (2012-13 school year)."
He said the system will keep an eye on the General Assembly, which recently began meeting and could meet up into April, as was the case last school year. But because the school board made $8.2 million in cuts coming into this school year, he doesn't expect any cuts this year.
However, he did recommend that the school board include six furlough days for next school year's calendar. Six were recommended for this school year, but the board worked it out to be four instead.
"No," said school board Chair Almond Turner. "I feel we have a good group of employees ... and we just voted to give them some days back. I feel we should give them the days we have given them. They deserve it."
School board member Eddie Johnson said he agrees that they deserve it, but he is concerned about potential deficits for the 2013-14 school year -- Mathews said that the system could be operating several million dollars in the red, if revenues and expenditures stay the same.
"I think that's going to be devastating to us," Johnson said. "We're going to set off an alarm."
Turner said he would agree, if the system didn't have the funds, but NCSS is expecting to have $6 million in reserves at the end of this school year.
Mathews said if the board keeps four furlough days this year, instead of six, then it would add $880,000 to the deficit at the end of the 2013-14 school year.
"You can have pain now or pain later, but I believe you will have the pain," he said.
The school board decided to table a decision on the school calendar until February.
"I think it's too early to make this decision," said board member Shakila Henderson-Baker.