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Newport Schools Set Tax Rate, Pursue Grant for New Computers, Position

The Newport Board of Education held a public hearing to set the tax rate for the district at 97.5 cents per $100 of real and personal property, slightly down from last year's rate of $97.7 cents per $100. The motor vehicle tax was unchanged from last year at $99.3 cents per $100 of value.

The working budget was approved at $22 million, with a general fund of $3 million. The board approved a contingency fund of approximately 6 percent.

The district has applied for a School Improvement Grant that would almost exclusively go for improvements in the high school, including computers for the students. Part of the grant would go to fund a position which would go between the middle school and high school. Seventeen schools are in running for the grant, and the results should be known by November 1.

Mike Wills, Assistant Superintendent/DPP, reported that the attendance numbers were down 18 students from last year, but he said he was not too concerned because last year's numbers were very high and by the end of the year the numbers were worse than they had been in four years. He added that the months when the numbers really mattered were January, February and March.

"I think we are off to a great start," Superintendent Kelly Middleton summed up at the end of the meeting.

Board President Ramona Malone told the board that she was very encouraged to hear that some of the high school students voluntarily stopped and helped a family who was moving, assisting with the moving of a freezer and a refrigerator.

"I am glad to know our students are of the mindset to help and do good," she said. "It is nice to hear that our kids are basically good kids."

Written by Patricia A. Scheyer, RCN contributor