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BOE discussing change in top 10 requirements
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 The Newton County Board of Education met Tuesday for their monthly work session to discuss several topics and review several handbooks for the 2008-2009.

 But the discussions hit a bit of a snag while reviewing the proposed changes for the Secondary Program Planning Guide.

Board members questioned whether or not the requirements for honor students and the Top-10 graduates in Newton County's high schools should be revised to stipulate the course recipients' course selection.

 Board member Johnny Smith raised the argument that the Top-10 graduates, who are honored by the Rotary Club, should represent the 10 best students and should include taking into account the level of class difficulty.

 Smith and Associate Superintendent of Curriculum Linda Hayden calmly went back and forth for close to five minutes before other board members joined the discussion, lending support to Smith's argument.

 "High school kids aren't stupid," he said with a grin. "They know what the tough subjects are, and they find ways around those. Look at them in the back. They know what I'm talking about."

 Smith was referring to a handful of students in attendance, who promptly chuckled, nodded acknowledgement and held their heads in mock shame. Smith's point was clear.

 "We want to encourage the kids and reward them for taking the hard classes," Smith said. "I think the top-10 graduates should reflect the best of the best, period."

 The board has 30 days to review the subject and that gives Hayden and her staff time to revise the requirements, if they choose to.

 The board plans to vote on the call to action at one of the upcoming regular monthly meetings.

ICMS has new principal

 The board unanimously approved the selection of Renee Mallard as the new principal of Indian Creek Middle School.

 Mallard has worked as an assistant principal at Cousins Elementary School for the past four years.

 "It's bittersweet," Mallard said in a press release. "I'm so excited about the new position but sad to leave my Cousins family."

Mallard takes over for outgoing Principal Samantha Furhey who moves to the county office next year.

Bid for school No. 14 approved

 The board awarded the bid for construction of school No. 14 on Kirkland Road to Meja Construction Company from Jackson.

 Meja's bid of $13.3 million beat out Amacher Brothers Construction's bid of $13.8 million. Meja has previously built schools in Newton County and plans to build school No. 14 similar to past designs.

No changes to 2008-2009 calendar

 Dr. Hayden presented the 2008-2009 school calendar with no significant changes, although the board did briefly discuss possible revisiting the matter next year for 2009-2010.

 New teacher orientation would start on July 23 versus July 18 in 2007. Students would report on August 1 and the last day for students would be May 29 versus May 23 this year.

 Graduation for the three high schools this year is May 24 where next year that would change to May 30.

Pilot Club donates $1,000

The Pilot Club of Covington presented a check for $1,000 to the BOE for the Special Needs Pre-School Program.

The Pilot club is currently celebrating its 50th year and made the donation to aid the pre-school curriculum.

Poor economic state impacts Newton

County Schools

In her presentation of the financial report, Associate Superintendent of Business and Administrative Services Deborah Robertson said the school system is within its budget, but future variable costs may have a dramatic impact on further budgets.

"I don't believe we've seen a year where money is going to be as tight as it is this year," she said. "Because for the rising fuel costs, we've asked the principals to review all their field trips."