Newport Superintendent: Charter Schools Are Coming; New Reading Program is Working
Newport Independent Schools Superintendent Kelly Middleton gave a report on the Kentucky Association of School Superintendents (KASS) convention, and spelled out the legislative priorities of the group.
"Charters are coming," he announced. "And that is not just me saying it, the Commissioner of Education believes it, too. Kentucky is one of the last districts to give in to charters, but it is probably inevitable. And it was discussed, what do we do, do we want to get behind it so we have some say? KASS has come out against any privatization of Kentucky public schools."
He also said one of the legislative priorities is to support the Kentucky retirement program, on the basis that the state needs to fix the program they have instead of coming up with a new one.
Middleton also told the board that they will be trying an aggressive plan to keep substitute teachers by raising their salaries. Another element that was OK'd by the board was the utilization of space, and he showed a diagram of the space in the school indicating the reuse of the daycare center to be science labs. He told the board that if they wait to do the project it will cost at least $750,000 extra than if they do it now.
George Sparks from Barnes and Dennig came to report on the audit of the board. Like with the other school boards, he reported on the liability that has to be reported but doesn't have to be paid right now, saying that the share allotted to the Newport school board is $4.295 million.
"You've got enough assets to pay it," said Sparks. "I applaud you for your position." He also said that this year's audit showed that expenses outpaced revenue for the district, but he reassured the board that they are in a cash position to absorb it. Board member Matthew Scott asked how many years the district could go on absorbing it, and Sparks said if that were a trend, it would be several years. He said it was not a big warning sign, just a few things like decreased SEEK funds and salary raises came together to cause an imbalance in the financials.
Middleton gave the board a report on Footsteps 2 Brilliance, the computer program that gets kids as young as 1 and 2 years old involved in prereading programs on any smart phone or tablet. Even though the district has basically just started the program this year, he reported that over 56,000 books have been read, and children in the city have been exposed to over 18 million words. He acknowledged that he probably wouldn't be around by the time the results showed up on KPrep scores, but he said he was very encouraged by these results.
The board honored the winners of the poster contest put on by the Fire Department.
Chief Gary Auffert was surprised that there were 8 winners from Newport Primary. Some of the children were not able to attend but the winners were Alecia Cogsville, Antinino Cioffi, Gabriela Pablo, Demetriona Harmon, Garren Akerson, Kay Sharp, Christina Brown, and Kenya Tomas.
Also honored for their contributions all year long was the Optimist's Club, and the three members present were Jack Fields, Tess Hollingsworth, and Bob McCray.
Shirley Turner, Treasurer for St Mark's Lutheran church, and Georgia Scheben, the financial Secretary, came to present the board with $40,000 specifically for the purpose of purchasing stage curtains and a new projector for the new theater at Newport High school. The money was from the sale of the church property since the church closed last year.
Written by Patricia A. Scheyer, RCN contributor