Superintendent releases list of possible cuts
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.