Mathews dis­cusses cost of run­ning schools

The Covington News - - Front page - By Am­ber Pittman gkhouli@cov­news.com

With the be­gin­ning of bud­get cut dis­cus­sions loom­ing for Newton County Schools, of­fi­cials are hus­tling to fig­ure out how to make $9 mil­lion in re­duc­tions for the 20112012 school year while still keep­ing enough money in the bud­get to op­er­ate the schools ev­ery day.

Ac­cord­ing to in­for­ma­tion from Su­per­in­ten­dent Gary Mathews, the cost of op­er­at­ing the school sys­tem for one day is $568,138. That in­cludes ev­ery­thing in the school sys­tem, in­clud­ing the cen­tral of­fice, each of the sys­tem’s 23 schools, and trans­porta­tion. That adds up to $11,362,757 a month.

Ac­cord­ing to Mathews, the sys­tem will need to cut roughly $4.6 mil­lion to have a fund bal­ance of zero at the end of the next school year. They will need to cut an­other $4.4 mil­lion to have an es­ti­mated $4.4 mil­lion in the fund bal­ance at the end of 2011-2012.

“That $4.4 mil­lion will hardly cover the $11,362,757 needed to cover even one month of op­er­a­tion in NCSS should any un­fore­seen events tran­spire that would re­quire us to dip into our fund bal­ance or ‘rainy day’ ac­count,” said Mathews. “So, while I am re­signed to achiev­ing a paltry $4.4 mil­lion es­ti­mated fund bal­ance at the end of 2011-2012, you can see that we can hardly af­ford to do less.”

Mathews has been vo­cal about his con­cerns for the school sys­tem and the ne­ces­sity of fur­ther cuts, in­clud­ing some to per­son­nel, which, along with health in­surance, is more than 87 per­cent of the sys­tem's bud­get.

Ac­cord­ing to a time­line re­leased by Mathews, the board plans to al­low each school coun­cil to pro­vide bud­get re­duc­tion in­put, which will be shared with prin­ci­pals at a called meet­ing on Mon­day. Prin­ci­pals will then meet with their school coun­cils to go over bud­get re­duc­tion pos­si­bil­i­ties fur­ther. A pub­lic fo­rum will be held on Jan. 13 to gain in­put from the com­mu­nity on bud­get re­duc­tions.

Mathews said that he hoped to give board mem­bers a pro­posed list of cuts in Fe­bru­ary or March for the board to con­sider un­til April. The board is sched­uled to ap­prove a ten­ta­tive bud­get in May.

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