The Newport Special School District Board of Education met on July 17th for the regular monthly meeting. The meeting was held in the board room of the Administration Building on the campus of Newport High School. All the board members were present. These include Presiding Office Dennis Haigwood, Leroy Mansko, Kathy Green, Jeff Rutledge, Eddie Cooley, Loftin Kent and Bryson Elston. The meeting had 19 visitors. The meeting was called to order at 6:04 pm. First order of business was the approval of the June Board Meeting Minutes,  approved 7-0.

            Although the Financial Report for the closeout of the 2017-18 school year is not ready, the Superintendent requested that the June and July reports be presented at the August meeting. Dr. Bennet requested and the Board approved 7-0 for Dr. Bennett to authorize the use of First Community credit cards in use of District payments.

            Jeff Rutledge presented each member a report/proposal he obtained from a public relations firm and advised each member to compile a list of specific suggestions for proposal expectations that the district would want to present to the PR company.

            In old business, the Board decide to not purchase Yondr pouches for cell phones. The request for the pouches was made by High School Principal Terri Kane to aid in the increasing  problem cell phones create during the school day. Dr. Bennet said he wanted students to be able to easily access their phones in case of emergency. Mrs. Kane explained that cell phones are a classroom distraction and is not conducive to the learning environment, but the greater problem with their use is outside the classroom during school hours. This would include between classes, lunch, etc. Member Kathy Green stated that a policy needs to be added to the teacher/student handbooks to ensure all abide by the rules. The board agreed to pursue other avenues on cell phones.   

            Items of new business included approval for the year’s payment on the technology leases for iMacs, iPads,and Smart TVs, approval for purchase of 60 additional iPads, approval of the leas of IXL Software for the 2018-19 school year, and approval to renew the property insurance lease with Arkansas School Board’s Association, which covers district buildings, contents, fencing, scoreboards, etc. Also, the board approved an added assignment for a PeeWee Coordinator, as well as added contract days to Coaches Lowery, McGee, Hoyt, and Smith for FAS Hounds. Jeff Rutledge was voted by the board to serve as Legislative Liaison through this election year, ending in May 2019. The board accepted and approved many new Board policy updates. NSSD received student test results along with the District report card. Pam Clark and the campus Principals presented the information to the board. Dr. Bennett explained that each campus must prepare a school improvement plan to address any deficiencies. In the last order of new business, the board approved a quote provided by United Fence and Construction to install the gates across Wilkerson Street and additional fencing at the new football concession.

            The highlights of the Superintendent report included a plan to equip the buses with wifi. This will be presented at the September meeting and New Teacher Orientation will be held August 1st and 2nd from 8:15 am -3 pm. All teachers will return August 6th.

            After returning from Executive Session, The board approved employment for bus drivers and new Instructional Assistants. The instructional Assistants include Jackie Macias, Lisa Carter, Rashad Billingsley, Taireon White, Jasmine Walton, Jessica Cooper, Sherry Landrum, Stephanie Brumley and Katrina Ponder.

            The meeting adjourned at 8:44 pm.