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Newport Board Discusses High Number of Teacher Departures

Newport board of education member Aaron Sutherland questioned the district about teacher turnover, noting that 27 teachers have left the district since January.

He asked whether it was having an impact on student progress.

Board president Ramona Malone said that if a teacher leaves in the middle of a school year, there will naturally be a challenge.

Sutherland suggested that a neutral third party should conduct surveys when teachers leave.

Superintendent Tony Watts said that each outgoing teacher receives an exit interview where he hopes to find out why they are leaving. Watts said that often a better job comes up for the teacher, or the family moves to another area. 

Watts said that Newport Independent Schools tries to be a place where teachers want to be.

Watts said that the district is trying harder to get exit surveys returned to the district, noting that many teachers neglect to return them when they leave.

Malone also said that the district wants to create a culture where teachers want to be, and she said that the reward in this difficult work is making a difference in the life of a child.

Malone said that the district is doing what it can to be an attractive place to work, including offering tuition reimbursement.

In other business, Newport Primary School principal Matt Atkins and Newport Intermediate School principal Dennis Maines presented to the Newport board of education on state testing.

Atkins said that he was not discouraged by scores at his school. He said that first-graders scored higher in reading than second-graders, and math scores were higher, too.

Atkins noted that kindergarten students, in many instances, outperformed older students in reading.

Maines said that he hopes for 100 percent growth. He said that if the board looks at scores from the fall of 2020 to the spring of 2021, it won't be as good a picture if the fall of 2020 and the fall of 2021 were reviewed together.

The pattern of improvement is clearer, he said.

Newport High School principal Michael Hunter also said that he sees positive signs. 

Superintendent Watts told the board that currently the district has eight students taking dual credit classes with Gateway Community & Technical College, and one student who is taking dual credit classes at Northern Kentucky University. 

He said he wasn't happy with the low numbers, and he has signed an agreement to join the Youth Scholarship Academy in an attempt to get students interested in taking advantage of simultaneously taking college classes while in high school.

At the beginning of the meeting, each school honored a student of the month, and a teacher or employee of the month.

Christopher Dowell, Jr., is student of the month at Newport Primary, where Gabrielle Giglio is the teacher of the month.

At Newport Intermediate, Caleb Bush received a medal for being student of the month, and Thomas Petty, the tech coordinator, was chosen as the employee of the month.

Newport High School chose Javier Termai Feldhaus as the student of the month, and cited his almost perfect ACT score.Alexa Robinson was chosen as the teacher of the month.

Then the board room was filled with many students who make up the middle school football team which just won a championship.  

The entire board distributed medals to the boys and their two coaches.

-Patricia A. Scheyer, RCN contributor

Board member Aaron Sutherland asked if the teacher turnover has had an effect.  He said he looked back in the records and 27 teachers have left the district since January.  Board president Ramona Malone affirmed that if a teacher leaves in the middle of the year, naturally there will be a hesitation in instruction.

Sutherland pushed the issue, saying maybe they should get a neutral 3rd party to do surveys when the teachers leave to find out why they are leaving.

Superintendent Watts said they have exit interviews, and attempt to find out why teachers leave, but he said many times it is due to a better job, or a family move to another area.   He said they try very hard to be a place where people want to be, even though he knows that some people are not going to be happy in the job. He did say that the district is trying harder to get exit surveys returned to the district, as well as forwarding information, as many teachers neglect to return the forms when they leave.

Malone said they want to create a culture where people want to be, and she said the reward for this very difficult work is making a difference in the life of a child.  She said Newport is a very diverse culture, and that is the beauty of Newport.  She told the board teachers have to want to do this job in this city.  By the same token, the district is doing everything they can to make it an attractive place to work, including tuition reimbursement and a good work environment.