The Newport Special School District met for the regular monthly meeting Monday, March 26th in the board room of the Administration Building. All the school board members were present, as well as many visitors. The visitors included Denise Haigwood, Kristi Miller, Pam Clark, Amy Thaxton, Kindergarten students and parents for the presentation, Brian Emison and Amber Bass of First Community Bank ­- Batesville, and Brian Robinson. The meeting was called to order at 6:09 pm.          The Newport Elementary School made a presentation to the school board. Asst. Superintendent Pam Clark explained that the Phonics First reading program is a new reading initiative.  Several of our elementary teachers have been trained by Crowley’s Ridge Coop, and have implemented the program with great success.  Denise Haigwood and Kristi Miller, kindergarten teachers, led nine of Mrs. Haigwood’s students in a demonstration for the Board and parents. The NES Principal Amy Thaxton followed the demonstration with a PowerPoint that outlined the successes and improvements in reading, including those in special education classes.

            The Financial Report was next on the agenda. Judy Clampit, Chief Financial Officer and Superintendent Larry Bennett expressed concerns with the service provided by Newport Iberia Bank. Brian Emison and Amber Bass from First Community Bank were invited to address the Board concerning their bank’s interest in handling the District’s banking needs. Loftin Kent moved that Newport School District close NSSD accounts at Iberia, and subsequently open accounts with First Community Bank of Batesville, Arkansas.  Eddie Cooley seconded the motion.  The vote to approve was 7-0.

            In New Business, Superintendent Dr. Bennett presented a quote from Health Special Risk, Inc. for $11,232. The amount is not an increase of coverage for the 2018-19 school year.  The Board members reviewed the policy and Bryson Elston moved to approve payment to HSR for student/athletic health insurance for the school year 2018-2019.  Eddie Cooley seconded the motion and all were in favor, voting 7-0.

            Dr. Bennett stated that after meeting with the Certified and Classified Personnel Policy Committees to review changes to District Personnel Policies, the committees each approved the changes and made the recommendation to take them to the Board for approval.  Dr. Bennett led the Board in looking at each of these amendments. Many of the amendments were approved. Policies 3.2 and 3.6 as amended were not approved, as the Board requested Dr. Bennett to acquire clarification and the board will vote on those policies at the April Regular Board Meeting. 

            The Superintendent Report included several items. New landscaping, led by Ag Teacher Brent Anderson and Maintenance Supervisor Richard O’Neal, has been completed around the High School and Administration buildings and more to be done. Dr. Bennett complimented the work, and thanked the several board members that have loaned equipment to make the beautifying of the District possible

            Second, ASUN has allocated funds to assist with securing equipment and software for use in the high school Precision Ag program.  The Board was in approval that these funds be used to purchase Farm Logic software, Smart Farm software, and a John Deere side-by-side.  The Board asked Dr. Bennett to seek approval of these purchases from ASUN.

            Dr. Bennett and Judy Clampit are working on Classified Salary Schedules to make adjustment only to the number of days required to work, allowing those employees to have more time off when the children are out of school.  Dr. Bennett and Ms. Clampit made it clear to the Board that classifieds’ salaries will not decrease as a result of any change. Also, Dr. Bennett and Judy Clampit are reviewing the Salary Schedules for licensed employees to ensure each is paid as required by the state minimum salary schedule.

            The Athletic Construction Budget has $15,000 remaining in its contingency fund and Dr. Bennett requested agreement to paint the interior of the gymnasium.  The Board was in agreement.

            During the Executive Session, the Board discussed resignations of both Classified and Certified employees. The Board reconvened in Open session at 9:41 pm.  The board approved the resignations of Suzanne Beaumont, District Teacher, effective March 14, 2018, Jacob Speirs, High School Teacher, effective March 16, 2018, Ysla Rucker, Instructional Assistant, effective February 28, 2018, and Lacy Williams, Instructional Assistant, effective March 14, 2018.

            The meeting adjourned at 9:45.