To the Editor:
As a 1995 graduate of Rogers High School I stand in strong support of Question 2 on next month’s ballot. Newport is a vibrant and diverse city that like many other urban communities faces many challenges. The most significant threat to our City’s future is the diminishment of year-round working-class families. Streets that I grew up on with homes occupied by year-round families, who had been there for generations, have drastically changed to houses that serve as second homes for people from other places. The fact Newport is a world class place to live and visit has priced so many of my fellow Rogers graduates out of the housing market.
While it is difficult to alter Newport’s thriving real estate market, we can try to improve our school system and make it more attractive for young families to either move here or more importantly stay and keep their kids in the Newport public schools. I look around and don’t see many of the people I grew up with and one of the main reasons is concern over our school system. This bond project will provide a first-class facility that serves as a sign of this community’s commitment to public education and to retaining young families in Newport.
Much has been written and reported about the terrible condition of the current high school and the years of neglect it has suffered. However, past failures should not stand in the way of progress and a financially viable opportunity to enhance a community asset. The need for a new high school is obvious, the funding reimbursement from the State of Rhode Island is significant and the time to act to move Newport forward is now.
One final suggestion I would make is that if the bond measure is successful the Newport School Committee should give strong consideration to naming the new high school after one of Rogers High School’s most prominent graduates, the late Mayor Paul L. Gaines.
Please vote Yes on 2.
Stephen C. Waluk
Former Mayor of Newport