Newport’s City Council and School Committee schedule workshop to discuss school building project

The Newport City Council and School Committee will hold a joint workshop tomorrow at 6 p.m. in the council chambers, 43 Broadway, to discuss the prospective school building project and debt service, a cost that could exceed $200 million.

Newport Councilwoman Jeanne Napolitano said today that the council has just received a 600-page document from the School Committee that discusses the prospective project. 

The workshop will lead to a formal application by the City to the Rhode Island Department of Education for a building program that would be eligible for reimbursement under the $250 million state bond that was approved a couple of years ago. 

That state bond grew out of a study by RIDE that said it would take more than $2.2 billion to bring schools statewide to what it described as  “healthy, safe environments, while providing the potential for educational spaces to be updated to 21st century learning environments.”

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Newport’s Rogers High School was rated among those in worst condition in the state, and in need of replacement. Napolitano has said she’s seen the estimated price for a new high school, and other system wide improvements, to be more than $150 million, not including debt service that would bring the cost over $200 million.

Under the state bond, the city would likely receive 35 percent reimbursement from the state and could be eligible for additional incentive funds.

Newport has attempted to convince Middletown to explore the possibility of merging school systems, an effort that now has twice been rejected by the Middletown Town Council. Meanwhile, the Portsmouth Town Council has indicated it would be willing to participate in a feasibility study with Newport to explore merger possibilities.

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