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Newport News Public Schools

12465 Warwick Boulevard  •  Newport News, VA 23606  •  Phone: (757) 591-4500

Get a Straight Answer
  Get a Straight Answer  

 

 
Newport News Public Schools maintains open communication with parents, students, employees and the citizens of Newport News. The school district strives to keep the public informed.

Comments, suggestions and questions are always welcome. Answers and responses to the most frequently asked questions, and topics that generate the most discussion in and around the community will be posted here.

Please continue to visit this web site for updates as they become available.

Why were spelling tests discontinued?
The elementary language arts program consists of a minimum 90 minute uninterrupted reading block and a 45 minute writing and language arts block. Both allow students early opportunities to learn and practice 21st Century Workplace Readiness Skills that will ensure that students are intellectually and socially prepared to compete in the 21st Century workplace.

Spelling is an important part of instruction in Newport News Public Schools. Direct spelling instruction occurs within both the reading and writing blocks.

Students learn spelling and words throughout the school day:
 
  • Reading block:
    Students are assessed in September to determine their spelling stage. Students with a similar understanding of spelling are instructed in small, flexible groups. During the week, students work on a variety of activities with their spelling words, also known as word study words. Near the end of the cycle, teachers have students spell words that are made with the same pattern(s) studied during the week. Student progress is measured throughout the school year with spelling assessments such as PALS (a literacy screening, diagnostic and assessment tool) and with division evaluations. Students are held accountable on a daily basis for transferring their spelling knowledge to journal writing and other written assignments.
     
  • Writing block:
    Students meet with teachers and peers to edit and revise writing assignments. Students are held accountable for correctly spelling words that they have previously learned. In addition, writing conferences provide teachers with opportunities to instruct individuals or small groups on particular spelling patterns that are not being used correctly in writing assignments. Student spelling is assessed on the school division's writing rubric.
     
  • Content areas:
    Throughout the day, students spend time learning about words and how they work. Vocabulary activities and lessons that focus on word patterns and meanings occur within each content area.
 
Do you teach cursive handwriting?
Newport News Public Schools uses the D'Nealian handwriting program, a simple, integrated style of printing and cursive designed to ease the learning process. During the school day, students write to communicate for a variety of purposes. So that student writing is legible, students are taught the correct formation of the letters of the alphabet. The letters in the child's name become a starting place for instruction in early handwriting in pre-school and kindergarten.

Formal handwriting instruction begins during the second semester of kindergarten. During this time, students are introduced to the correct formation of each letter and have daily opportunities to practice writing the letters. First grade students continue with handwriting instruction beginning in September to review and refine manuscript (print) handwriting skills.
Beginning in the second semester of second grade, students are introduced to cursive writing. They receive formal instruction on how cursive letters are formed. Students have many opportunities to practice correct cursive writing.

Students in grades third, fourth, and fifth grade are expected to continue the use of D'Nealian handwriting so that written work is neat and legible. Most of the work students complete in these grades will be completed in cursive.

Most students are excited to learn handwriting skills and enjoy practicing correct letter formation. Parents are encouraged to help at home by providing a variety of writing experiences for so that students can practice what has been introduced at school. Writing a letter to friends and family, thank you notes for gifts, a shopping list, or a telephone message are opportunities for parents to show students why we write and how letters are made so that the writer's message is easily communicated to the intended audience.

Parents can view the D'Nealian letters here, and a copy is included in each student's agenda book.
 
How can I learn more about the NNPS Reading and Language Arts program?
Newport News Public Schools has a comprehensive language arts program that includes a variety of reading, writing, listening, and speaking components that foster the integration of communication, research skills, and teamwork. These components include literacy activities that progress from teacher directed, to guided practice, to independent learning and are woven into the classroom setting to create an environment that leads students to become independent readers, writers, and thinkers.
 
Visit our Reading and Language Arts website for more information.
 
 
I heard that if the school division and city could save money if they shared services. Is this being looked into?
Yes. In fact, "shared services" is already a reality in Newport News, with NNPS sharing services with the city and other organizations in a number of areas.

For example:
  • The NN Parks and Recreation Department uses schools as both before- and after-school program sites.
  • The NN Emergency Operations Office includes NNPS representatives and uses school buses for emergency transportation, schools for emergency shelters, and NNPS food service to provide food for those in shelters.
  • NNPS uses the city's radio network and frequencies, communications towers, and radio maintenance/ purchasing.
  • NNPS uses specialized city equipment, such as vehicle wash racks and vacuum truck.
  • NNPS and school divisions in the region share services, including:
    • New Horizons Regional Education Center
    • Alternative education program
    • Youth Career Café
    • Joint procurements

NNPS and the City continue to work on additional ways to reduce costs and increase effectiveness through shared services and will continue to examine areas that will benefit our community.

Below is a more extensive list services shared by the City and school division.

Transportation:

  • Fuel – regional contract
  • Emergency Services
    • Schools (shelters) & staff & food
    • NNPS Buses & drivers
    • EOC – NNPS provides staff for Emergency Operations Center
  • Training
    • Police train on NNPS buses
    • Radar training
    • Defensive Driving
    • Driver Training
  • Radio Network
    • NNPS uses the city's radio network and frequencies
    • City maintains NNPS radios
    • NNPS uses city communication towers ( for GPS antennae)
    • Purchasing new/replacement radios
  • Data Sharing:
    • NNPS provides student demographic data to City Planning
    • City Planning provides development data to Schools
    • NNPS uses the City's GIS Arc info for EDULOG
  • Storage - City stores dirt for inclement weather at Reservoir lot
  • Bus wash rack - NNPS uses city's vehicle wash rack for school buses

Child Nutrition Services:
  • Shelters
  • City uses many of NNPS food bids such as milk & bread for city farm and juvenile detention
  • Parks and recreation uses schools for after-school programs

Athletics and Driver Education:
  • Parks and Recreation (school gyms before and after school program, school fields and Todd Stadium)
  • City Radio Shop
  • Self Insurance Office (National Safety Council/Membership)
  • DDC classes for city employees and Hampton-Newport News CCB
  • Mainframe (all DDC information)
  • Newport News Golf Course (golf matches and invitational)
  • Newport News Tennis Center (tennis invitational)
  • Newport News City Park (cross country invitational)
  • Police/Sheriff (works events at schools and Todd)
  • NN Police and NN Sheriff (training)
  • NN Fire Department (training)
  • Stoney Run Complex (field hockey tournament)
  • Riverview Gymnastics Complex
  • Riverview Soccer Fields
  • Midtown Community Center (swimming)
  • City Farm Workers (Relay)

Plant Services:
  • NNPS uses city's sewer vacuum truck
  • P&R Maintenance uses NNPS property behind Administration building
  • Public Works sells NNPS salted sand for snow application
  • Police use NNPS Plant Services building for SWAT training
  • NNPS and City coordinate for areas of joint interest, like training and new regulations

Other Areas:
  • Mainframe/Network IT services
  • Treasury services - banking
  • Vehicle self-insurance fund
  • City retirement
  • City trust fund for retiree health insurance
  • Police resource officers
  • Actuarial services
  • City attorney services
  • Cooperative purchasing agreements
  • IDA borrowing capability for Hidenwood Medical (Staff Support Center)
  • Emergency generator shared by City and Telecommunication Center
  • MetroNet return feeds for schools are located in City facility
  • NNPS provides TV production van for City functions

 
I've heard that some school divisions are conducting efficiency reviews through the state. Is NNPS participating in this program?
Newport News Public Schools is analyzing the findings of efficiency reviews conducted on 34 Virginia school divisions to identify areas that may result in greater effectiveness and efficiency.

School divisions in Virginia can request efficiency reviews of their practices from the Department of Education. School divisions that do not implement at least half of the review's recommendations are required to pay 25 percent of the cost of the review. For school divisions that do not contract for a review, the Department of Education publishes its findings to allow them to identify potential areas for decreasing expenses and increasing effectiveness.

The total annual savings recommended to the 34 audited school divisions is $34.2 million. Because not all recommendations were implemented, the total cost savings is actually lower.

In NNPS, our restructuring over the past two years has reduced our costs by $37.7 million. By using the state reviews, we will measure our practices against other school divisions and look for areas where additional savings can be found without negatively impacting the instructional program.

  • The largest portion of the recommendations are cuts instructional costs:
    • Hampton -- eliminate 10 assistant principals, 5 nurses, 5 counselors, 17 teachers, 6 teacher specialists, reduce payments to New Horizon
    • Petersburg – phase out 50 teachers
    • Charlottesville – cut 6 assistant principals, 62 teacher assistants, 13 teachers, close a school
       
  • Some recommendations propose increasing costs:
    • Petersburg – restructure salary schedule ($12.2 million)
    •  Norfolk – create 4 senior instructional coordinators, spend $6 million more on maintenance
    •  Hampton – hire 3 bus mechanics


The findings of these reviews are being used by NNPS to benchmark our work against their recommendations.
 
What is being done about bullying in schools?
As a school division, we work continuously with students, staff, family members and community organizations to make sure that safety is a top priority. NNPS has several bullying-prevention programs in place and a host of other initiatives aimed at maintaining a safe and welcoming environment for our students.

Below are just a few of the programs in place to ensure our students have a safe and nurturing environment in which to learn. But our partnership students, parents, family members and others is the most important link in this effort. We invite anyone who knows of a bullying or other safety concern in our schools to contact us so that we can work together in keeping schools the safest place possible for our children. Please report any information online so we can continue to provide a safe school environment for all, or call the NNPS Crime Line at (757) 591-3800. View the Bullying Prevention at NNPS website.

The following is sampling of programs and activities designed to promote student safety in Newport News Public Schools:
  • Student-led groups that promote student safety and offer mediation in cases of potential conflict among their peers
  • Training for teachers and other staff to identify safety concerns and preempt negative behavior
  • Comprehensive Rights and Responsibilities Handbook that clearly spells out the behavior expectations for NNPS students. All students and parents/guardians are required to certify that they have reviewed the handbook. And school administrators review expectations for behavior and where to go for help if there's a problem.
  • NNPS Crime Line for students and others to report safety concerns in a confidential manner (757) 591-3800.
  • Security officers assigned specifically to all middle and high schools
  • Security officers who monitor elementary schools on a rotating basis
  • Uniformed police officers at all high schools
  • Student Assistance Counselors at all high schools to help students deal with social and academic problems and other concerns
  • Cameras inside and outside all middle and high schools
  • Cameras on school buses
  • GPS tracking to enable NNPS to know where buses are at all times and monitor speed

View more program and activities designed to promote student safety in Newport News Public Schools.
 
 

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