Former Newton principal given job upon return from military leave

COVINGTON -- A school administrator in the U.S. Army was able to return to his job this year after serving in Afghanistan.

Gabriel Burnette, who was the principal at Sharp Learning Center until he was placed on a military leave of absence in 2010, was recently approved by the Newton County Board of Education to work as an assistant principal between Alcovy and Newton high schools.

"At the time of his departure, there had not been a board decision made as to the elimination of the Sharp alternative program," said Newton County School System Superintendent Gary Mathews on Monday. "That said, upon his departure to serve his country, I indicated to him that we would reserve an administrative position for him upon his return, which I believed was the least we should do given his service to the nation. (Newton County school board) attorney (Kent) Campbell agreed with me at that time, as did the Board of Education."

Since Burnette returned from Afghanistan in January, he was placed as an administrator of assignment working between the two high schools.

As part of the budget cuts earlier this school year, one assistant principal was cut from each Alcovy and Newton high schools, leaving four at each high school, to save $215,000.

Burnette will work through the end of the school year for a salary of $59,498, according to Nyree Sanders, director of Human Resources at NCSS. He is being paid at his same rate of pay, a principal's rate, for the remainder of this school year only, she said.

Mathews said it is possible that Burnette will be able to remain with the school system in the future.

"In the coming 2012-13 school year, we intend to place him in an administrative position, be it a vacant assistant principalship or some other administrative position, should he be a successful applicant," Mathews said Monday.


Blueeyeddevil 3 years, 8 months ago

It is a shame when a guy comes back from a leave and is making more then a firefighter. I mean 120 thousand dollars for a principal, granted the guy just got back from Afghanistan and I'm sure that it was hell, but to get to come back and get 120 thousand dollars ontop of that is very distracting, and I'm sure has made a good few of people mad. So what do people do about this? Well I guess we could all sit around and complain about it or we could complain to the right people and see if it changes anything. I know as a taxpayer it upsets me a great deal about it but im one person. It seems like inside strings are being pulled to make this happen, hey I maybe wrong but it seems awfully funny for this guy to be making this kind of money when teachers who really deserve money like that never see it in a life time. Come on people open your mouths and say something just don't sit back and take it.


molasses 3 years, 8 months ago

He is being paid for the job he was hired to do which is basically what principals and assistant principals make. If the firefighter wants more money then they can go to school and pick a different field to be in or work hard to get promoted to a higher rank within the fire department. It would be a shame if this man came back from Afghanistan and was not given a job back or only offer him something below his education and experience level. I am very impressed that the school system handled this in the way they did because this school system usually makes stupid decisions. In case you don't realize this but in most companies the supervisors make more money than the subordinates. The teachers are not supervisors, the principal and assistant principal are and they get paid based on their job description. Pick your battles wisely, please.


phone 3 years, 8 months ago

Hey Blueeyeddevil, instead of just opening their mouth, people should take steps to improve their pay rate than just complaining. Get an education,take training, or other steps to improve your pay scale. You should investigate the salary of a job before taking it. If its not enough then you may need to decide on a different line of work. Don't fault the principle for what his pay scale is. I assume he put in the time and money to reach his educational degree. You think that strings are being pulled? What inside information do you have? You obviously know nothing about the right of a returning vet to their previous postion. If you did, you would understand why the county would rather not be dealing with his JAG lawers in court.


CBSfinder 3 years, 8 months ago

I have to agree with Blue eyed devil, I mean this is definately a blow to teachers and other administrators because there some very hard working teachers and to let the guy come back is fine but to give him that amount of money is a little much don't you think? I have a feeling that once this takes place there's going to be a fight because like blue eyes pointed out these teachers never see that amount of money in a lifetime let alone a year of pay or what have you. I think it's complete crap that one individual can make that much money for doing WHAT? So the question is raised inside job or just spite who knows what it may be but I think its definately an inside agreement and I think it should go to the board. Something needs to be said about this and nothing is going to be said if people just sit back and take it. Come on Newton County open up say something if you think is unfair. Newton needs a voice where is it. SPEAK UP !!!!!!!!


amp72 3 years, 8 months ago

Isn't the school system legally required to give him his job back if he was reserves and went on active duty?


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