Newtown-Harris Board of Ed appoints new superintendent and principal

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The Newtown-Harris R-3 Board of Education has announced the appointment of new leadership roles for the upcoming school year.

Stephanie Hubbard will assume the role of superintendent starting July 1. The current Superintendent, Dr. Matt Copeland, praised Hubbard for her extensive background in education, which includes over 30 years of experience in various capacities such as a teacher, special education director, and superintendent. Hubbard has previously held superintendent positions in two Wisconsin school districts and the Climax Springs School District in Missouri.

Dr. Copeland highlighted Hubbard’s student-centered approach and her commitment to enhancing small, rural schools, which he noted resonated strongly with the board.

In addition, Shannon Bain will take over as the principal for kindergarten through 12th grade at Newtown-Harris. Bain brings nearly two decades of experience from her roles in the Putnam County and South Harrison school districts. She is currently serving as an interventionist and curriculum director at the Milan School District. During her interview, Bain demonstrated significant leadership skills and a keen ability to engage with students, teachers, parents, and the community effectively.

The salaries for both Hubbard and Bain will be determined at a future date.

The board also approved the academic calendar for the next school year. Classes will commence on August 20 and conclude on May 16, 2025. Additionally, graduation has been approved for twelve seniors and five eighth graders.

Dr. Copeland reported on the allocation of the School Safety Grant, which will focus on four major projects: updating the elementary entryway, installing two new security cameras, providing remote access capabilities for the main entrance doors, and enhancing the safety glass windows. The board has accepted bids totaling $50,000 for these improvements from Integrated Facility Services and its subcontractor, CanTex Glass and Mirror.

Furthermore, the board has agreed to purchase new stage curtains from Premiere Stage Supply for $7,450, which includes delivery and installation of the front curtains within four to six weeks.

The meeting also served as an opportunity to acknowledge outgoing board member Mike Otto for his 15 years of service. New members Katie Ireland and Holly Fairley were sworn in for three-year terms, and board officers were reappointed with Matt Miller as Board President, Holly Fairley as Vice President, and Justin Oaks as Secretary/Treasurer.

Dr. Copeland shared updates on the district’s transportation issues, noting the career and technical education/vocational technical education bus is currently undergoing repairs. He also mentioned ongoing maintenance discussions with a Lexington-based contractor and cooperation with Randy Small, who will service the buses from the Grundy County bus barn.

The superintendent also touched on the collaborative efforts with Grundy R-5 to explore joint fundraising initiatives and discussed the allocation of approximately $40,000 in E-Rate funds dedicated to improving internet connectivity and Wi-Fi access at the preschool/kindergarten and elementary levels.

In terms of academic planning, Dr. Copeland noted the district’s ongoing preparations for summer school, set to begin on May 28 and run through June 14. The board is expected to finalize the summer school budget at the next meeting.

Lastly, Dr. Copeland highlighted the district’s focus on academic vocabulary during the recent professional development day and the potential impact of Senate Bill 727, which is currently gaining traction in Jefferson City.

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