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Newport Superintendent Concerned by Changes in State; Students Recognized

Newport Superintendent Kelly Middleton expressed concern about state and federal education issues during this week's meeting of the Newport Board of Education.

"I have to say, this is the most dismal financial climate," Middleton said. "It is the worst I have seen in my 30 years in schools. We have a school-choice President, a school-choice Education Secretary, and a school-choice Governor. We have seen cuts, and ours is one of the worst in the area. We have had a loss of students. Our financial director, Tete Turner, has seen that our SEEK shortfall will be about $500,000. These are tough times for public schools."

Effective immediately, districts no longer have to complete program reviews and students in grades 6 and 10 will not take the on-demand writing assessment for the state K-Prep test.

"These are things our teachers and staff have worked very hard on all year, and suddenly, it's all thrown away," said Middleton.

The school districts just found out last week that these changes and more are required, Middleton said, and they are scrambling to find out how to comply with rules, because local boards would need to make any changes to their current system at a board meeting prior to July 1.

"And we have heard that there will be a special session to look at retirement," said Middleton. "Senate Bill 1 is just a massive, massive bill."

Other notes:

Tete Turner said there woule be a change in the cost for new flooring at the Primary and Intermediate Schools and that the bond sale would be for $86,889, and the amount for the flooring was $558,579. The project also covered masonry work at the Welcome Center, and doors at the Primary School, with a total amount of $645,465.

The Future Business Leaders of America students who placed in regionals will go on to nationals in California in late June. Maddy Webb placed for business planning, Katie Leslie for spreadsheet applications, Diamond Bennett for Client Services, Cheyenne Doyen in advertising, and Terrell  Sebastian, Autumn Dreyer and CJ Dyas for Computer game and simulation, and they will all be going to California to compete. Their coach, Jennifer Michael, has worked to raise the money for the trip, but Michael asked the board for the rest of the money, and the board voted to give her $10,000, the rest of what she needs for the trip.

The students from the Student Leadership Technology Program were recognized for their participation. From the 3rd through 6th grades, the students were Jadyn Cruz, Elexis Litton and Kylie Llanes; from the 7th and 8th grades, the students were William Metz, Jailen Lewis, Elijah Blunt, Logan Fulmer and Brandon Harris; from the 9th through 12th grades, the students were Wittney Hardin, Curissa Richardson, Shaylee Hall, Autumn Dryer, CJ Dyas,  Jalyn Collier, Anthony Sapp, Cody Baynori, and Mirena Combs.

Students were recognized for the Duke University Talent Identification Program, and were able to take the ACT even though they were only seventh graders. Participants were Eli Crockett,  Brandon Harris, Julian Maxwell, William Metz, Lauren Scott, and Arianna Taylor.

Carley Petty, from Newport Intermediate school, was chosen by 10th grader Joe Haste, to give student awards to two teachers, Kari Peterson and Diana Schutte. This is in conjunction with Steve Mathisen, who is the chair of the Wesst Side Citizen Coalition, a group that has been working with the schools.

Ashlee Bedinghaus, a 5th grade teacher, was featured as the Alumni Video person of the month.

Written by Patricia A. Scheyer, RCN contributor

Top photo: Superintendent Kelly Middleton gives tenth grader Joe Haste a Newport blanket

Slideshow Images & Captions: 
Carley Petty presents a student award to Kari Peterson.