Last week, the Newport Daily News published two articles about the Newport public schools.

One was a guest view on Tuesday, September 18, “Newport County schools lead the way for arts education,” by Edward McPherson, Executive Director of Island Moving Company, touting accurately that the Newport Public schools are leading in arts education on Aquidneck Island.  The other article, published on Saturday, September 22, “Officials: Conditions at Rogers High School do not pose risk,” was also accurate in its description of the deteriorating physical condition of Rogers and the challenges and costs associated with day-to-day maintenance of the building.

The two articles encapsulate the opportunities and challenges facing Newport public schools.

On the one hand, there are a myriad of positive and innovative curricular and cocurricular activities (Math through Movement, science through sailing, tennis and homework, robotics, etc.) On the other hand, there are significant challenges–from Rogers’s aging physical plant to cuts in arts education (notwithstanding the story mentioned above,) to cuts in foreign language offerings (when our world is becoming more diverse, not less) to confusing school schedules not optimal for student learning to a shortage of special education teachers.

Our children cannot succeed if we do not show them by our words, advocacy, and action that they and their education matter. They should be proud of their schools.

What can we, as citizens of Newport, do to support our public schools in working to help students realize their full potential? For one, we should all vote in favor of the state bond referendum on November 6. The bond’s passage would ensure that there is money available from the State of Rhode Island to build a new high school. For another, I propose that parents at each of our three public schools–Pell, Thompson, and Rogers–organize themselves into committees (not just PTOs or booster clubs) to bring to school administrators and the School Committee concerns about curriculum, staffing, and building conditions.

I believe in the Newport public schools because I believe the opportunities outweigh the challenges. My children attend Pell Elementary, and I pledge to do my part to help Newport’s public schools thrive. That is why I’m running for a spot on the School Committee.

Aida Neary

Neary is a candidate for Newport School Committee