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Newport Schools Work to Incorporate New MacBooks Into Everyday Learning

All of the students at Newport High School were given brand new MacBook computers this year to help them with their class work.  The MacBooks were made possible thanks to a federal grant.
 
Kevin McCormick, Director of Instructional Technology, said that the program is going well, and said many of the teachers hit the ground running with showing the students how the MacBooks work in conjunction with their courses. He also said that he thought it was important that the computers be used as a learning tool, and not as a hall pass, because if the students don't know something about their new laptops, they will ask to go to the on-site technician to find out the answer - and that is what all the staff have been trying to avoid.
 
"The students are happy because they know they have the kind of computers the rich kids have," said Superintendent Kelly Middleton. "They are proud of it."
 
McCormick also said the state is requiring more data security so he has had to remind all the staff and teachers about the rules for using computers. He explained that it was so easy for a teacher to log a student in on their code, and some of the people have taken the easier way to do things instead of strict adherence to the rules. However, he told the board that they just needed to break some bad habits so the district can be proactive in avoiding any kind of data breach.
 
Other notes: 
 
The board voted to accept the compensating tax rate of 97.5 cents per $100 of assessed value, deciding not to take the full 4 percent that they are allowed to take without a public vote. This is the fifth straight year that the Newport Board has not taken the full 4 percent. In addition, the state is allowing Newport to add 3.6 cents to the property rate to make up for losses for prior year exonerations. The increase will cost the owner of a $200,000 property an additional $72 a year or $6 a month. The owner of a $100,000 will pay $36 a year or $3 a month. This is the lowest increase possible to meet the district's financial obligations as well as maintenance and repair needs. The motor vehicle tax is 99.3 cents per $100, the same as last year.
 
The opening day of school went very smoothly, district officials said, including the district's policy of visiting every students' home before the big day. This is a policy instituted by Middleton, and allows the children the opportunity to meet teachers on their own home turf. Middleton said the kids look forward to the event, and when he is driving around the city, he will see kids all dressed up and sitting on their front step anxiously waiting for the teachers and staff to visit.
 
Sandra Pierce-Stricker, the middle school counselor, talked about Upswing summer programming, previously known as Yellow Bus Summer program. This is a program for the transitional students and slides showed all the places they were able to visit, including Kings Island, and a boat ride on the Ohio, and the fun they were able to incorporate into the summer learning. Three children came to the meeting to tell the board how much they enjoyed being part of the program.
 
Food Service Director Andrea Whiles told the board about a grant she has been receiving from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration to buy different fruits and vegetables for the students to eat, not just as a snack but as a learning tool to find out about the different foods. She said the fruits and vegetables for the day are displayed on racks just inside the cafeteria where the students can grab one before they go to class. They are instructed how to eat it, and what goes good with it. So, two to three times a week they might have jicama, or kiwi, or something else that students might not be familiar with. Whiles said the school has received over $197,000 since 2012 in the yearly grant that she has to apply for.
 
The board approved the posting of a position for a school psychologist. There was some question of whether to post it now or wait until next year, but the board thought it would be best to post it now.
 
Written by Patricia A. Scheyer
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