Racers State of Schools: O’Brien addresses school issues


By Andrew L Basden


Superintendent Tony O’Brien gave the Racers State of the Schools speech during a recent chamber luncheon .

O’Brien started out his speech by introducing the Administrative Team Members.•Mr. Jeff Landes, Chief Financial/Operating Officer

•Mrs. Kristi Ferguson, ECC Principal, Director of Federal Programs

•Mrs. Shawna Winstead, ECC Dean of Students

•Mrs. Terri Scott, Elementary Principal

•Mrs. Jennifer Cutler, Elementary Asst. Principal

•Mr. John Harris, Middle School Principal

•Mr. Jeremy Reynolds, MS Dean of Students

•Mrs. Jennifer Beer, High School Principal

•Mrs. Robbin Sanders, High School Assistant Principal

•Mrs. Stacy Gray, Special Education Director

•Mrs. Nikki McCann, Athletic Director

•Mr. Brett Sanders, Transportation Director/Assistant Athletic Director

O’Brien then spoke on Safety and Security Updates.

Outlining 3 specific areas, O’Brien talked about:

•Physical Plant

•Vistors in the buildings


“Secured entrances at the high school and 2-3 building of the elementary are in the works,” said O’Brien.

The planning phase for cameras in all the buses has been started as well.

Anyone  wishing to gain access to the buildings must check in at the office first and present a photo id.

Transportation procedures have been updated for the 2016-2017 school year.

All of the routes have finally been digitized. Any student that is a bus rider will not be allowed to get off at any address except the one listed on their enrollment forms. Transportation between buildings for students is not provided due to safety issues for them and the driving public.

Newcastle Public Schools received an “A-F Report Card” that was based on data collected from the 2015-2016 school year. Listed below is each building and the grade that it received

•Newcastle Early Childhood-B

•Newcastle Elementary-B

•Newcastle Middle School-B

•Newcastle High School-B

NPS will not be receiving a report card for the 2016-2017 school year.  This is due to the testing system being updated by the state.

Moving on to Enrollment Updates, O’B Newcastle Public Schools had a student enrollment of 2,165 in October of 2016. By May of 2017 it had an increase of two moving it up to 2,167. At the beginning of the new school year enrollment again increased up to 2,207. Class sizes for each grade as of October of 2017 are as follows:

•Pre Kindergarten-161










•Ninth -171




Testing updates for the 2016-2017 School were included in O’Brien’s address as well.

“Testing scores for the 2016-2017 year will be released on October 11 to the school districts and October 17 will be when the public will have access to them,” said O’Brien.

They are expecting to see about 50% less in the amount of students who are proficient and advanced due to the tests being reset and scores cut.

” In 2017 all Juniors in the state were tested, state numbers went from 32,854 to 42,405 and Newcastle went from 103 to 131,” said O’Brien.

Finance updates show that funding sources from the state are moving; in the wrong direction STILL.

There are three major funds to worry about, General Fund, Building Fund, Sinking/Bond Fund.

There are Six Bills coming up to keep an eye on.  HB 1002, 1065, and 1072, and Sb 8x, 9x, 11x.

The four day school week is being adapted by more schools.

Last Year $60,000 was raised in activity fees.  We will be having homecoming for fall, winter, and spring activities.

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