Student population declines in Region 8 school

Student population declines in Region 8 school

NEWPORT, AR (KAIT) - Arkansas is one of the states that allows school choice and representatives with the Newport School District have noticed the impact it has had on their student population.

Executive Director of Economic Development in Newport Jon Chadwell said he is working with the community to help keep students around.

“It’s been noticed over the years that school choice has allowed students to move to some of our surrounding schools,” Chadwell said. “We have recognized that we haven’t been as engaged as we should be with the school district.”

A group of citizens called MOST, “Make Our Schools Thrive”, proposed a special meeting with the board to discuss the decrease in student numbers.

“This group of citizens came together," Chadwell said. "To make sure we are engaged with the school district.”

However, the special meeting was rejected by the board.

The board proposed a letter statement from the “MOST” organization requesting the reasons of why the special meeting needed to be held.

Superintendent Larry Bennett said the board has accommodated the “MOST” organization to speak at their board meetings, but having a special meeting was not necessary at that time.

Chadwell said they have looked at a partnership with an ASU-Newport career coach and the school has implemented that proposal.

“ASU-Newport has a lot of resources to bring into the school,” Chadwell said.

Bennett said some of the reasons students are leaving the schools are due to lack of businesses in the area.

He also said he believes it’s related to race.

“We have a situation where it appears to me to be white flight when you look at all the applications,” Bennett said. “I am sure everyone has a different opinion of why, but when you look at it, we are losing the white population in our school.”

Both Chadwell and Bennett ask that the parents be involved in the school district and stay active.

They believe if everyone comes together, it will make the school district better.

Bennett is retiring as Superintendent of Newport School District on Dec. 21 and said he hoped people will see how great of a school and community they have in Newport.

The next board meeting will be held on Dec. 18 at the Newport School District.

To learn more about school choice in Arkansas visit https://www.arkansaslearns.org/page/SchoolChoice.

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