The Newport Special School District held their monthly meeting on Tuesday, February 27th at the Board Room of the Administration Building on campus. The meeting was called to order at 6:09 pm by President Dennis Haigwood. Board members present were Kathy Green, Eddie Cooley, Loftin Kent, and Bryson Elston. Jeff Rutledge and Leroy Mansko were not in attendance.

            Jim McLarty presented a letter drafted to Governor Asa Hutchinson requesting the Governor to help pass legislation that would ban the sale of the AR-15 assault rifle and its ammunition magazine. Mr. McLarty stated his hope that the Board would approve the letter to be sent from the Newport School District Board of Education. No action was taken by the board. President Haigwood stated that some time should be given for consideration.

            The minutes of the Annual Report to the Public on January 22nd, the regular meeting on January 22nd and the Facilities Tour on January 25th were all approved by the board 5-0.

            The financial report for January was presented by Judy Clampit. After discussion, the board approved the report 5-0.

            In new business, Superintendent Larry Bennett led a discussion of current policy regarding weapons, specifically the consequences for students who bring knives to school. The current policy more directly applies to firearms. He asked the board’s thoughts about possession of a knife. Principal Terri Kane asked for a re-writing of the policy. The board agreed that Dr. Bennett and Kane can use their discretion in handling each situation as it arises. Dr. Bennett stated that he would look into re-writing the policy.

            The proposed calendar for the 2018-19 school year was presents and approved 5-0.

            The March meeting regularly scheduled for Monday, March 19th will be moved to the third Tuesday, March 26th.

            In School Business Policies, the Superintendent recommended the Board review and approve various amendments made by the ASBA. The Board accepted them and approved the addition to the 2018-19 policy handbook.

            The Superintendent Report reported on the following items. First, Dr. Bennett and Judy Clampit are looking at the upcoming salary increases for the next school year, as well as a possible change in the 12 month contracts for classified employees, allowing more time off for the holidays while maintaining their rate of pay. Second, the Superintendent expressed major concern over the funding of special education. Enrollment of all students is declining, but the special education student population is growing and creates a funding issue. Representative Michael John Gray introduced a Bill in the legislative session to address this issue, but it was defeated. Third, Superintendent Bennett briefed the Board in the conference attended by himself, Terri Kane and Technology Coordinator Joey McKnight. The Future Ready School Digital Equity Program conference was February 10th-22nd in Washington, D.C. The three were pleased to share that Newport leads in the movement to provide students with the opportunity to engage in a rigorous and flexible digital learning environment. Another item was that the Superintendent is looking into the possibility of offering Archery in the 2018-19 school year. Also, the Hungry Hound Café has passed state health regulation and will soon open for business. Last, Dr. Bennett announced that maintenance and custodial contracts must be put out for bid, as adjustments to the requirements are needed to include the concession stand, restrooms, and safe rooms.

            After Executive Session, the Board reconvened and voted 5-0 on the following resignation and employment of licensed personnel; resignation of Danille Spears (7th Grade Math, effective 2/16), resignation of Nyesha Greer (Elementary Assistant Principal, effective 6/30), resignation of Heather Hoggard (JAG/Internship teacher, effective 6/30) and employment of Donna Morehart (High School Teacher, effective 2/28).