Su­per­in­ten­dent re­leases list of pos­si­ble cuts

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

De­spite a some­what op­ti­mistic speech by new­ly­elected Gov. Nathan Deal, the Newton County School Sys­tem is still look­ing at po­ten­tially cut­ting $9 mil­lion from its 2011-2012 bud­get. Su­per­in­ten­dent Dr. Gary Mathews has re­leased a list of 13 pos­si­ble cuts and their po­ten­tial sav­ings to the school sys­tem.

“As sug­gested pre­vi­ously, some of the bud­get cuts on the at­tached sur­vey are more palat­able than oth­ers depend­ing upon one’s view­point. We are un­der no il­lu­sions as to the sig­nif­i­cant hu­man pain as­so­ci­ated with these pos­si­ble bud­get cuts. And they come at a time when our ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem — at all lev­els — can least af­ford them,” said Mathews in a press re­lease.

To­tal bud­get re­duc­tions since 2008-2009 are ap­prox­i­mately $18.3 mil­lion, leav­ing the school sys­tem to do more with less for sev­eral years now.

Ac­cord­ing to Mathews, when mak­ing the list of the 13 pos­si­ble cuts to the sys­tem, there were sev­eral that were elim­i­nated, in­clud­ing pri­va­tiz­ing both trans­porta­tion and cus­to­dial work, re­duc­ing half of ele­men­tary art, mu­sic and phys­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion and elim­i­nat­ing the sup­ple­men­tal teach­ers.

“In the case of pri­va­tiz­ing trans­porta­tion and/or cus­to­dial ser­vices, we be­lieve we have ac­tu­ally iden­ti­fied greater sav­ings for the school sys­tem, and ar­guably at a greater ben­e­fit to our em­ploy­ees, by not pri­va­tiz­ing,” said Mathews. “As for re­duc­ing ele­men­tary art, mu­sic, and/or phys­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion, the Ex­ec­u­tive Lead­er­ship Team and I re­jected this be­liev­ing that ele­men­tary chil­dren are mea­sur­ably bet­ter off aca­dem­i­cally — and as hu­man be­ings — through ex­po­sure to these finer qual­i­ties of hu­man ex­is­tence, i.e., art, mu­sic, and healthy liv­ing. To do oth­er­wise would

have re­duced our ele­men­tary schools to ‘fac­to­ries’ and would have de­prived ele­men­tary fac­ul­ties of valu­able plan­ning time so crit­i­cal to our new strate­gic plan for teach­ing-for-learn­ing-for-all,” he said.

“And, for the sake of the at­tached sur­vey, we also re­jected the re­duc­tion or elim­i­na­tion of the “sup­ple­men­tal” teach­ers in our ele­men­tary schools. It is ex­actly the small-group and in­di­vid­u­al­ized in­struc­tion that these teach­ers pro­vide that is so key to progress in the rig­or­ous state and fed­eral ac­count­abil­ity sys­tems im­pact­ing NCSS,” said Mathews.

Some ad­min­is­tra­tive cuts are of­fered as pos­si­bil­i­ties and Mathews said he con­sid­ered more; how­ever, in the last sev- eral years there have been many cuts to cen­tral of­fice (14) and the of­fice is cur­rently down to less that 20 ad­min­is­tra­tors. With 19,500 stu­dents that is a ra­tio of one cen­tral of­fice per­son for ev­ery 1,000 stu­dents, ac­cord­ing to Mathews.

“Our fer­vent prayer is for the re­al­iza­tion that this bud­get re­duc­tion ex­er­cise is a part of a nec­es­sary process, one that can be fa­vor­ably al­tered by con­di­tions and events pri­mar­ily out of the school sys­tem’s con­trol,” said Mathews. “And, while we can­not count on mea­sur­able re­lief for our shrink­ing rev­enue sources, we un­abashedly pray for such re­lief for our stu­dents’ sake, our staff’s sake, and for our greater com­mu­nity’s sake."

See Fri­day’s edi­tion of The Cov­ing­ton News for an in-depth look at the po­ten­tial bud­get cuts.

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