The Newport School District held a Special Meeting on Thursday, August 2nd. The meeting was originally scheduled to be held in the Board Room of the Administration Building, but was relocated to the Auditorium when the number of visitors outnumbered the amount of seats in the Board Room. The visitors were greeted by Jon Chadwell of the Newport Economic Commission, Vice-Principal Jon Bradley and various Newport School Board Members. The visitor log contained roughly 200 signatures. One visitor laughed and asked, “Are they wanting to change the football schedule?”

            The meeting was called to order by Board President Dennis Haigwood. For the first time since covering the meetings, the meeting was opened in prayer by Jeff Rutledge. All board members were present, including Dennis Haigwood, Leroy Mansko, Kathy Green, Jeff Rutledge, Eddie Cooley, Loftin Kent, and Bryson Elston.

            In the first order of business, Haigwood introduced John Chadwell of the NEDC. Chadwell began his presentation with the positive things happening within the district. He continued by explaining his involvement with a new group of community citizens, referred to as MOST, Making Our Schools Thrive. Chadwell was approached by community members and parents frustrated with the Newport School District involving relationships with and performance of the School Board, Administration, and Teachers. He addressed perceived reasons for the decrease in Newport School enrollment. The school district is losing roughly 30 percent of student enrollment each year. The perceived reasons include Local Economy, White Flight, Socio-Eonomic Flight, Safety/Discipline, Quality of Education, Communication Issues and Morale of Teachers and Parents.

            Chadwell was thorough in his research of the perceived reasons. Using state statistical information, the actual reasons were more closely related to the safety/discipline, quality of education, communication with administration and teachers and the morale of the teachers and parents. Chadwell did not want to display the data on safety and discipline from the state department or the standardized test scores in fear of media coverage making the outlook worse. Unfortunately, he inferred to a high number of discipline infractions, as well as low test scores. John Chadwell closed with an invitation to the Board to work with himself and MOST in an attempt to address and resolve these issues.

            Board President Dennis Haigwood spoke on behalf of the board in accepting the invitation, but was quick to urge the parents to take a more active role in the lives of their children, as well as emphasized the fact that very few members of the community show up to board meetings and that the board had to meet mandates by the Department of Education. The Board’s Annual Public Meeting will be August 21st.

            During many of the meetings in the latter part of the 2017-18 school year, the board discussed the option of constructing a road for parent pickup on the south side of the Newport Elementary to alleviate the traffic congestion that backs up onto Commerce Drive. The board approved the proposal by Hawkeye Enterprises to construct a road to alleviate the problem.

            The Board approved employment of Preston Tarkington (High School Teacher), Dale Teague (High School Teacher), Chelsea Golden (High School Teacher, SPED), Maggie Bontrager (Preschool Teacher) and Rachel Swindle (PreK teacher moved to Kindergarten Teacher).

            The meeting adjourned at 7:13 pm.