Newton County School System

COVINGTON — The Newton County Board of Education has approved a tentative budget that will give all employees a pay increase of approximately 7% for fiscal year 2023.

The $217.6 million spending plan includes the $2,000 pay increase for certificated employees approved by the state Legislature, as well as a 3% pay increase for all non-certificated employees. In addition, all employees will receive another 4% increase in pay.

According to school system officials, the 3% received by non-certificated employees approximately equals the $2,000 approved by the Legislature for certificated employees.

The total cost of all the pay increases is budgeted at $9.8 million.

The budget is based on revenues of $197,146,518 — $120.3 million, or 61%, from state revenues and $76.8 million, or 39%, from local revenues. Under this tentative budget, the school system will draw $19 million from its fund balance in order to balance the budget.

Expenditures in the budget include:

♦ $182.8 million for salaries and benefits

♦ $1.7 million for artificial turf for Sharp Stadium

♦ $2.9 million for school buses

♦ $10 million for textbooks and supplies

♦ $8.6 million for computers and equipment

The improvements at Sharp Stadium and the school bus replacements were originally expected to be funded through Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (E-SPLOST) revenues. However, the school system received an increase in QBE funding this year, prompting administrators to move those projects to the general fund budget. Superintendent Samantha Fuhrey said the transfer would make it possible to expedite those projects.

However, District 1 Board of Education member Trey Bailey objected to the transfer, saying that the point of the SPLOST funding is to alleviate the tax burden on property owners. Bailey cast the sole vote in opposition to the tentative budget.

The Newton County Board of Education will hold a public meeting on the proposed budgeted on May 17, 7 p.m., at the Central Office, 2109 Newton Drive, Covington.

The board is expected to approve a final budget in June.

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I have been editor of the Rockdale Citizen since 1996 and editor of the Newton Citizen since it began publication in 2004. I am also currently executive editor of the Clayton News Daily, Henry Daily Herald and Jackson Progress-Argus.

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