open letter newport ri

As a father, a Rogers High School graduate, a friend of students, teachers, and life long-learners, and a City Council Candidate – I need to voice an official opinion on the pending school bond.

In 2018, 84.1% of Newporters supported the successful Rhode Island School Infrastructure Bond, which established a $250 million-dollar fund for school renovation and construction projects throughout Rhode Island. To gain access to these funds, a municipality needs to follow an eighteen-month process, established by the RI Department of Education (RIDE), including public meetings, demographic studies, facility assessments, and comprehensive reports. Newport followed this process and has been approved for a new state-of-the-art Rogers High School and Career and Technical Education (CTE) facility. In November, our community has the opportunity to pass a municipal bond to move this project forward. Here are the reasons why, I am in favor.  

Currently as it stands, Rogers High School is one of the worst high school buildings in Rhode Island. Renovations of the existing building are estimated to cost $76 million and wouldn’t make changes to the antiquated building layout and design. Additionally, RIDE has explicitly told Newport that it will not fund the cost of a renovation. 

Newport will receive back 52.5% of the cost of bond from the State, thanks to the Statewide Bond mentioned before. This will alleviate a large amount of the tax burden on our community and provide us with a brand-new High School – all at roughly the same cost of maintaining the old one for the next 5 years. Also, it should be noted that as a result of the COVID pandemic our State will need a few years to recover financially. This would suggest that a future State School Infrastructure Bond is unlikely, which means we should take advantage of the current opportunity.

- Advertisement -

Probably most importantly, public education creates a critical foundation for our children’s future. The connection between education facilities and student achievement is well-established. At RIDE’s May 27, 2020 meeting, they recognized that Rogers has “outdated systems that are not aligned with the district’s educational program vision. The new High School will be a 165,783 square foot comprehensive facility that blends both academics and vocational programs into a 21st Century learning environment.” The plans for a new Rogers High School and the integrated curriculum will help set our children on a path to success, but also incentive businesses and families alike to move here and contribute to our year-round economy. 

Lastly, and this is key, regionalization will never be off the table. Investing in a new school now, only provides Newport with the opportunity to leverage our successes and our community, when our neighbors find themselves in a similar situation. Regionalization has been discussed for decades with no success, so why would we think that we would get a different response if we do not pass the Bond. I stand behind investing in Newport and its education as a solution our community needs.

Paul Marshall

Newport, RI

Candidate for Newport’s 3rd Ward City Council


September Supporter Drive.

You can have an impact. Help power What’s Up Newp’s coverage of COVID-19, the election, and your community

What’s Up Newp’s September supporter drive is underway. By the end of September, our goal is to see 250 of our loyal readers become What’s Up Newp supporters to help power our daily reporting on COVID-19, the 2020 Election, school reopenings, people & profiles, the social justice movement, arts & culture, and important journalism that is brewing in our newsroom.

When you invest in What’s Up Newp, you invest in your community. Since 2012, What’s Up Newp has been free to read, and we will always be, but we need your support to do what we do.

Will you support What’s Up Newp today?