The below statement presented at this evening’s Council meeting during the comment period for Councilor Bova’s resolution regarding regionalization.

Convene the Academic Advisory Committee now to refocus on regionalization’s real bottom line: improving student outcomes.

Newport and Middletown residents have invested a substantial amount of time and money considering regionalization. To date, this conversation has focused on the financial benefits – the additional money which could be transformational for our public schools. 

Digging in on the numbers is important – I’ve spent my career advising communities on the financial impact of decisions like regionalization and I commend the council, school committee, staff and community members who have participated.  But it’s time to refocus the conversation on the real bottom line: how and if our two communities can work together to improve student outcomes.

Understanding this requires giving voters a look at how the two communities will work together on improving academics.  Unfortunately, the current process doesn’t give voters a look under the proverbial hood until after they vote to move forward. Voters deserve to have an idea of how a combined school district would work together to help students before they are asked to cast such an important vote.  Let’s give voters a look before we ask them to leap.

That preview could be provided by accelerating the convening of a part of the transition working group called the Academic Advisory Committee – a group of educators, administrators, parents and students from both communities tasked with making recommendations on the ultimate academic structure of a regionalized school system. 

This is a largely advisory group (recommendations are non-binding) whose role is to give the new regionalized school district a roadmap for how the communities would like to move forward.  More importantly, it provides the opportunity for both communities to try working together.

Under the current plan, the Academic Advisory Committee won’t be convened until after the public is asked to vote on regionalization. The Council should work to immediately convene the Academic Advisory Committee, providing voters the opportunity to begin seeing how and if the two communities can work together.

Voters deserve reassurance that the two communities can cooperate and keep the focus on students and the best way to provide that is to convene the Academic Advisory Committee from the two communities now.

Xaykham “Xay” (pronounced “Sigh”) Khamsyvoravong is a candidate for City Council At-Large. 

Ryan Belmore is the Owner and Publisher of What'sUpNewp. 
Belmore has been involved with What’sUpNewp since shortly after its launch in 2012, proudly leading it to be named Best Local News Blog in Rhode Island by Rhode Island Monthly readers in 2018, 2019, and 2020 and an honorable mention in the Common Good Awards in 2021.

Born and raised in Rhode Island, Belmore graduated from Coventry High School and the Community College of Rhode Island. In addition to living in Newport for 10 years, he has lived in Portsmouth, Coventry, Providence, Smithfield, Burrillville, and East Greenwich.

Belmore currently serves as Vice President of the Board Of Directors for Fort Adams Trust and on the Board of Directors for Potter League For Animals. He previously served on the Board of Lucy's Hearth and the Arts & Cultural Alliance for Newport County.

Belmore and his wife, Jen, currently live in Alexandria, Virginia, a move they made in 2021. Read more about that here - https://whatsupnewp.com/2021/09/letter-from-the-publisher-some-personal-news/

Belmore visits Newport every couple of weeks to support the 12+ paid contributors What'sUpNewp has on the ground across Rhode Island, a place he called home for 39 years.

Belmore is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers, Society of Professional Journalists, and the North American Snowsports Journalists Association.

In 2020, Belmore was named Member of the Year by LION and won the Arts & Cultural Alliance of Newport County's Dominque Award.
Belmore can be contacted at ryan@whatsupnewp.com and 401-662-1653.