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Newton Co. Board of Education facing changes in budget

COVINGTON — The Newton County School System is facing some budget changes in the next fiscal year, but there does appear to be a possibility of growth in the coming years.

According to a report to the Newton County Board of Education during Tuesday’s budget work session by NCSS Director of Support Services Mike Barr, many Newton County school buildings are in need of repairs and updates.

Currently there is about $2 million worth of urgent needs in the school system, he said. For instance, Heard-Mixon, Livingston and East Newton elementary schools are in need of roofing repairs. Needs assessments are being done at each facility in the system, and the current cost of needs and updates exceeds $10 million for all schools in the Newton County system, Barr said.

NCSS Business Manager Peggy Bullard told the BOE that she expects the ending fund balance for the school system to be about $16 million for fiscal year 2013-14. However, she said she anticipates the ending balance for the following fiscal year, 2014-15, will be lower, closer to about $10 million. Bullard said that these projections are tentative and likely to change.

Schools Superintendent Samantha Fuhrey said the local real estate market seems to be slowly improving, and as a consequence, she expects the county will see some increase in revenue.

She said she expects the economic improvement could raise the school system’s budget in the fiscal years of 2014-15 and 2015-16, but only by about 1 percent and 2 percent per year.

Although a little growth is predicted, Newton County School System employees have not seen an increase in pay since the 2008-09 fiscal year.

During the budget work session, Fuhrey recommended the board approve 1-percent pay adjustment for Newton County school employees, and will be effective as of January 2014.

“The pay adjustment would give the employees the much deserved recognition for their hard work,” said Furhey.

The Board of Education approved the recommendation of the pay adjustment for those who work within the school system, which will be funded by additional revenue from last year’s budget that had not been spent. The 1 percent adjustment would apply not only to teachers, but to all school system employees such as bus drivers and cafeteria personnel. This is a one-time pay adjustment and will not be maintained for future budget plans.

In addition to the budget changes, the BOE approved during its regular work session Tuesday the use of Newton County Theme School at Ficquett’s cafeteria for the annual Community Thanksgiving Meal. The meal has been sponsored by the Newton County Ministers Union for the past 12 years.