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In Newport, Grades 7 & 8 Will Be Moved to High School

The Newport School Board officially voted to reconfigure the grades in the district Wednesday night at a special meeting, putting grades 7 and 8 in the high school, and keeping grade 6 with the intermediate school.

"This is a decision that was made a year ago, but we decided to make it official so we can start the program next year," said Superintendent Kelly Middleton. "A lot of districts have their schools start high school at seventh grade, and it definitely makes it easier to manage."

Beechwood is one of the districts that has seventh within the high school.

Middleton said it makes for a more seamless transition, and that the seventh and eighth grade students will, for the most part, have their classes on the first floor, so once the renovation of the high school building is complete this summer, it will be possible for the high school students to have very little contact with their younger peers, except on the stairs, or in the cafeteria.

"Ninety percent of the time the students will be separated," said Middleton. "We have been trying to get our curriculum realigned, too, and that is coming together. It is really a matter of semantics. We will only have one school council for the high school, and less bureaucracy."

The current middle school principal, Tim Grayson, will be reassigned next year, but what position he will occupy has not yet been determined. Because the board had discussed the issue before, they passed the issue unanimously.

All of the principals came to the school board meeting to give an update on the MAP testing given to their students after the holiday break, and the news was mixed. In the primary school, grades K through second grade, novices increased in reading but not in math, and in intermediate, grades three through five, third grade reading was a cause to celebrate while fifth grade reading was a cause to be concerned.

Middle school scores were up almost consistently, although it was noted there was room for improvement. High school scores were more up and down, and more confusing since they use CERT instead of MAP testing, due to the fact that it is structured to be more like the ACT test.   Since there is less movement than the testing in the spring, which is a benchmark for the KPrep tests, schools use the MAP testing to measure progress in the students, and points up the places where they need to give the kids more help.

One of the places where the high school students need help is in endurance, the ability to sit for longer periods of time for longer testing. Kyle Niederman, Principal of the high school, noticed the problem during test monitoring, and will address the endurance problem during the school year.

Architect Ehmet Hayes came to the meeting to explain two different BG changes, one for the space reassignment in the high school, and one to do re-roofing projects at different spots in the high school and middle school buildings. One of the reasons for calling the special meeting was to address the two projects and attain the approval of the school board so they can keep moving forward with their timeline. The board approved both of the changes.

The board also approved expenses for board members to attend the 2016 KSBA Legislation Education Advocacy Day on January 20 and 21.

"We want to go to show legislators that we are serious about funding for our kids," said board president Ramona Malone. "Our voice needs to be heard. It is possible that if we put more money into education we might be able to put less into our prison systems."

Written by Patricia A. Scheyer, RCN contributor
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