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.