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Newport School District Extends Bid Deadline for 4th St. Building, Explores Innovative Mobile Program

The Newport Board of Education heard a presentation this week about a program called Footsteps 2 Brilliance, an early learning mobile technology platform that accelerates student achievement by providing that learning community-wide, and promising to close the third grade reading gap. The program is new in this area, and Superintendent Kelly Middleton has declared himself on board.

The program requires matching funds, which in other areas came from a partnership with the school district and the city, so that every child who has a city zip code can access the program on an electronic device, such as a smart phone, a tablet, or a computer.

"I will find a way to come up with the matching funds," said Middleton firmly. "We are one of the first groups in the area to be on board with this program and we want it in our city. Erlanger-Elsmere has looked at it, as has Covington, and they like it, too."

The program can be started with children as young as two years old, and exposes the child to over a thousand words and provides 24/7 access through mobile and web technology. The program grows with the child through talking books, games which develop vocabulary and skill development, and parental involvement. The goal of the program is to have every child in the community be ready to read by kindergarten. Studies have shown that at-risk children enter kindergarten with only 25% of the vocabulary they need to to succeed, and 88% of these children never catch up. The e-books, songs and activities can be in Spanish or English, or can go back and forth.

Other notes:

The board also honored Larry Long, the School Resource Officer, who has left his position to be part of the Criminal Investigative Division in the Newport Police Department. Taking his place is Scott Wiggins, who was introduced to the board Wednesday night.

Winners in the Future Business Leaders of America were recognized at the meeting for taking first place in community service. Miranda Combs, Vanessa Tafolla, and Nekko Beal were the winners in the competition. Janiah Miller took third place in Public Speaking 2, Dorian Cosby won third place in Public Speaking 1, Kyle Wade won second place in Accounting 2, and Ethan Snapp won Region 4 Parliamentarian.

The board went into executive session after the meeting to discuss extending the deadline to accept bids for the property at 101 E. 4th street, which is home to the Intermediate school housing grades 3, 4, and 5. The board came out of executive session to vote to extend the deadline for bids to May 22. The deadline had been April 15, but apparently the board was not satisfied with the bids.

Lastly, the board listened to a presentation of a new behavioral program which will attempt to identify where and what the problems are, and then target that behavior. The goal is to have a more consistent behavior level among the students, and a more consistent expectation among the faculty for what they can and cannot tolerate.

Story & photos by Patricia A. Scheyer, RCN contributor

Slideshow Images & Captions: 
Winners of the Future Business Leaders of America were honored for their achievements. Left to right are Ms. Jennifer Michaels, teacher, Mariah Combs, Vanessa Tafolla, Janiah Miller and Kyle Wade.