open letter newport ri

We join our fellow Citizens Exploring School Unification (CESU) members in expressing our extreme disappointment with the six members of the Middletown Town Council who have, once again, shown no respect for the voices of their constituents.  At a June 22nd  meeting, a petition, signed by 1183 (over 10%) of Middletown Registered Voters, supporting the formation of a committee to study school unification between Middletown and Newport was rejected.   Realizing that the petition for a study committee would not move forward because of a legal technicality, Councilwoman Barbara Von Villas presented a separate motion to have the committee formed and the same six councilors defeated Von Villas’s motion, without substantive discussion.  

We have had the opportunity, both personally and professionally, over the years to witness the many excellent programs offered by both the Middletown and Newport Public Schools.  We were educated in the Middletown Public Schools and are graduates of Middletown High School as are our children.  We have worked within the communities of Newport and Middletown supporting children and their families and we have great respect for the efforts of the educators in both communities.  We know that both communities are more alike than different. 

Times have changed.  Enrollment at both Rogers High School and Middletown High School is not what it once was.  Students are not being offered a fully comprehensive program of studies due to the declining school population and lack of funding.  School budgets are being stretched beyond their limits and both communities are facing the expense of building new high schools in the near future.  

We respect that Newport is moving forward with the school bond supporting the building of a new high school; however, we cannot forget the fact that when Newport officials came to Middletown a year ago and asked for consideration of a regional high school, the Middletown Town Council flatly refused.   

Should the time come when it is in the best interest of both communities to re-energize the discussion on school regionalization, it is imperative that we have Middletown Town Councilors in office who will respect the voices of the 1183 registered voters who signed the CESU petition in support of studying the regionalization process.

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Janet Kelly McCarthy

Susan Spero Schenck

Middletown High School, Class of 1967

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