A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Peluso says ReNewport Blue Ribbon Education Task Force ‘can be a difference-maker for our community’

By Don Owen
NKyTribune reporter

Newport Mayor Jerry Peluso believes the ReNewport Blue Ribbon Education Task Force — a community-led group that will map out a comprehensive education plan for the city and the school district — will be an engine of positive energy for the future.

“This initiative can definitely be a difference-maker for our community,” Peluso said at Thursday’s press conference announcing the formation of the ReNewport Blue Ribbon Education Task Force. “It’s for the future of the children. A successful city is synonymous with a successful public school system. You need one to have the other. We realize this is a challenging task, but one that we need to explore.”

The goal of the task force is to provide all Newport children with the highest-level public education opportunities.

The task force is a collaboration between the City of Newport, ReNewport and Newport Independent Schools.

Newport Mayor Jerry Peluso addresses the media during a press conference to announce the formation of the ReNewport Blue Ribbon Education Task Force. (Photo by Don Owen)

Along with Peluso, ReNewport executive director Josh Tunning, and Ramona Malone, the chairwoman of the Newport Board of Education, spoke at the press conference.

One noticeable area that needs improvement by Newport Schools is in standardized test scores.

“Based on the audit that’s performed by the state’s education system, Newport ranks near the bottom in test scores,” Peluso said. “So there are some deficiencies there. I believe there is a correlation between higher test scores and feeling good about yourself.”

Peluso said students, teachers, parents, and the community need to unite for the common goal of improving the educational experience at Newport, and the task force is a positive step in that direction.

“This isn’t about finger-pointing. This isn’t about politics, and this isn’t about throwing money at a situation. This is about a collaboration amongst a number of people to make things better,” he said. “This is about our young people, to give them an opportunity in life. I believe it starts at home and continues in school. If you’re successful in school and get good grades, you feel good about yourself. That should continue to the next chapter of their lives, and they’ll make better choices because of that.

“They will be more apt to go to college, get a four-year degree or a masters. But we want them to stay here in this community and contribute. You want them to buy a home here and for that successful cycle to continue. You want them to get married and then have children, and then have their children attend our school system.”

Ramona Malone, the chairwoman of the Newport Board of Education, speaks to the media about the formation of the task force. (Photo by Don Owen)

Malone said that strong community support contributes to a good school system, something Newport hopes to receive as a result of the task force.

“I did a lot of research, and I found a lot of the schools that are doing well have a strong community support, and strong family support,” she said. “They work together collaboratively to do what’s best for students and parents and community.

“I do believe families choose where they are going to live based on the education system. We have a great community. I call it the ‘Newport magic.’ Once you visit Newport, you don’t want to leave. We’re on the right track, and we’re doing some really good things in Newport schools.”

Members of the ReNewport Blue Ribbon Education Task Force include:

• Jenny Brewer
• Ed Davis
• Cody Delk
• Shane Gosney
• Ian Maloney
• Steve McCaferty
• Jerry Newberry
• Mark Ramler
• Lynn Schaber
• Janiah Miller
• Bobbie Stubbeman
• Michael Whitehead

Malone is impressed by the individuals who are volunteering to serve on the task force. She also said that the support of the task force is a crucial element.

“I think we have a very good representation of Newport on this team,” Malone said. “We’re doing a lot of good things, but there are areas where we can improve and insert their support. You know how you might have something that’s not quite sturdy? It’s working, but not quite steady? You put an insert in there, and it stabilizes and it’s able to work to its full capacity.

“That’s what we’re looking forward to doing with this group. They will provide us with an insert to strengthen the weak points so that we can be better and stronger.”

In addition, Tunning said the task force “will bring the support and awareness of the great things going on in Newport public schools.”

“We have our city government and public school system coming together for the greater good and not only improving what we already have,” Tunning said, “but making it more widespread and making sure it’s available to everyone.”

Related Posts

One Comment

  1. Ruth Johnson says:

    I sincerely hope Ms. Malone can have an open mind and acknowledge Newport’s shortcomings. So far, all I have see her do is rationalize every decision the superintendent makes and every dime he spends. In my opinion, she will only continue supporting the status quo. Unfortunately, the status quo is failing our students, parents and community. You cannot fix a problem without identifying it.

Leave a Comment