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Our High School must be replaced, and this is the opportune time to initiate bonding and complete the process that began more than two years ago. The building committee has followed the guidelines of the RI School Building Authority to the letter of the law in order to qualify for the maximum reimbursement to Newport, $55,825.875 of the $106,334,967 total cost of the project. That leaves Newport taxpayers with a cost share of $50,509.110, less than 48% of the cost of bonds to be issued. By the time, we have shovels in the ground for this project, the bond for the Thompson Middle School will have been retired.
These funds have been voted on by the General Assembly with strict deadlines for various stages of construction to be observed. The funds are not permanent but have a deadline for distribution. In this climate of economic hardship, it is safe to assume this legislation will not like be extended beyond current commitments, which will be fulfilled. Therefore, we need to support this bond issue now or this window of opportunity will most likely be closed for us.
The carrot of regionalization is really a red herring being raised by those opposed to the rebuilding of Rogers High School. We have been on the road to regionalization for several years. The history of these efforts has been documented many times and is a matter of public record. It is common knowledge that Newport has consistently supported regionalization, but one community cannot accomplish this alone. Some Middletown residents have agreed to the concept, but most of the council and the majority of electors have declined to agree. There is no guarantee that this will ever change.
Newport needs to move on. Our kids deserve a facility that meets the needs of 21st century education.
A new facility should not dampen discussion of regionalization but enhance it. For one thing, it would eliminate the idea of one Middletown Council member that Newport was looking for a “bail out” from Middletown.
I understand the lack of interest in rebuilding Rogers High School if one has no history of involvement in the support and success of former or future students; or if one sees $$$$ for the resale of the RHS property; or if the education of Newport’s children simply is of no concern. But if, on the other hand, you recognize the need for adequate educational facilities and you understand that the quality of education in a community has a direct correlation to the community’s quality of life, then I’m sure you are as enthusiastic as I am in supporting this bond referendum.
A 52.5% reimbursement is a fantastic opportunity for Newport taxpayers to replace our aging high school. If the bond is successful and for some reason we opt not to build, there is no penalty. If the bond fails, we are not likely to see such an opportunity again. It has been asked by some, what we have to lose by waiting a few weeks?
The answer: A 52.5% reimbursement.
Come one, Newporters! Let’s pass this bond!!
Jo Eva Gaines
Former Chair & Longtime member, Newport School Committee