Tom Shevlin, the City of Newport’s Communications Officer, shared the following press on Friday in regards to Middletown & Newport Public Schools Regionalization.

What’sUpNewp is sharing it in its entirety;

HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT REGIONALIZATION BEFORE NEXT WEEK’S COMMUNITY MEETINGS

As election season approaches, more details are coming into focus on a proposal to create a combined school district for two Aquidneck Island communities.

In addition to electing new town and city representatives, Newport and Middletown residents will also be asked to vote on a proposal to create a regionalized school district on Tuesday, Nov. 8th.

If the measure passes in both communities, along with providing for expanded educational opportunities and creating greater administrative efficiencies, each municipality would also be eligible to receive 80.5% reimbursement from the State on all new school construction projects. That would include the building of a new Rogers High School in Newport, as  well as a  centralized elementary school and new Gaudet Middle School in Middletown. 

For taxpayers, the savings would be significant.

If voters approve the measure, Newport taxpayers would save $46 million on the cost of the new Rogers High School, while Middletown would effectively be able to construct three new buildings for the price of one.

Meanwhile, according to an interim report released last week, efficiencies achieved through regionalization could yield millions more in annual savings across both communities, while also providing opportunities for greater educational programing for students.

The report, which was developed by Woolpert Strategic Consulting and Cooperative Strategies in conjunction with the State Department of Education, found that while both communities currently provide robust educational offerings at all grade levels, a regionalized school district could expand STEM, CTE, fine arts courses, and other programs for middle and high school students by combining and enhancing existing classes and reinvesting operational savings into student development.

Among the areas of savings include the following:

  • Increased State Housing Aid – Regionalizing would increase the available State Housing Aid to 80.5 percent. This is a significant saving for both communities. In the future, a regionalized school district would receive 67 percent state housing aid, a significant increase from the current core allotment of 35 percent for both communities.
  • Reimbursed State Transportation Allotment – The state provides 50 percent of in-district transportation costs for regionalized school districts. The annual transportation allotment would amount to about $1.1 million extra for the regional district.
  • Allocated Regional District Bonus – Incremental costs incurred during the transition are offset by state funding allocations providing about $432,800 in Year 1 and $216,400 in Year 2.
  • Realized Operational Efficiencies – The first-year budget for the regional district would be the combination of both schools’ previous year’s budgets. This means that any operational savings gained could be reinvested into the classrooms at the discretion of the regional school and finance committees.

The interim report is due to be discussed in depth at a series of community meetings slated for Monday, Aug. 22nd over the course of two sessions: from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. at the Knights of Columbus Hall, 7 Valley Rd., Middletown. A virtual option will also available Tuesday, August 23, from 6 to 8 p.m.

Middletown and Newport began working together in early 2022 to develop the state legislation that would allow for public school regionalization.

The Act approved by the General Legislature in June follows the same process undertaken by other districts in the state to regionalize and aligns with the Rhode Island General Laws Title 16 that governs the establishment of regional school districts. If approved, the first business day for the newly regionalized school district would be July 1, 2024.

For more information on the meetings, including log-in information for the Aug. 23rd session, please visit https://middletown-newport.us/Home/Events. Recordings of meetings in June and July are available at https://middletown-newport.us/Home/Documents.

To read the full report, and to learn more about the proposed regionalized school district, please visit www.middletown-newport.us 

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