opinion Newport Rhode Island

By Ronald Héroux, CESU Secretary

With the success of distance learning, as espoused recently by the three Aquidneck Island school superintendents during this pandemic crisis, teleconferencing technology will continue to grow and become more integrated into our schools’ educational delivery systems when the students return to their classrooms.  This will enhance our ability to bring in experts and specialty teachers from anywhere in the state and in the world to help expand our curriculum, based on student needs.

To achieve this goal in a time of diminishing economic resources and dwindling student population on Aquidneck Island, we need to seriously reexamine the pros and cons of school regionalization.  A broad based group of concerned citizens (teachers, parents, grandparents, political officials, etc.) formed to promote such a formal study. The group is called Citizens Exploring School Unification (CESU). 

CESU was established last summer after many Middletown and Newport residents were dismayed at the refusal of the Middletown Town Council (in a vote of 5 to 2) to support the request of Newport educational and city officials to explore school unification.  CESU presented a petition signed by more than 700 Middletown voters to request the Town Council to reconsider its vote. The Town Council ignored this petition.

In January CESU developed a new citizens petition to place a referendum/ordinance on this year’s November ballot which would require the Town of Middletown to study with Newport the pros and cons of school unification.  CESU needs 1178 Middletown voters to sign this petition by 1 May in order to place this referendum/ordinance on the ballot.

CESU currently has over 750 signatures and was doing well in gathering the needed 1178 signatures when the shelter in place and social distancing orders were established in March.  We are now using social media and phone calling to try and obtain the remaining required signatures. We ask Middletown voters who wish to sign this petition to download the form from our CESU website, cesu.news, and mail it to CESU, 25 Olives Way, Middletown, RI 02842.  For more information or to obtain a petition, you can contact our CESU petition coordinator, Greg Huet, at (540) 446-6045 or gmhuet@aol.com.  You can also contact me at (401) 339-2839 or frannie542@aol.com.

Ronald Héroux, CESU Secretary

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