opinion Newport Rhode Island

To The Editor:

As a Newport School Committee member and a parent of students who attend Newport schools, I feel compelled to clarify, and hopefully eliminate the confusion and misinformation regarding the impact of regionalization on both Newport taxpayers and students.   

1.   Newport WILL NOT be responsible for Middletown’s $2M deficit or any deficit that exists prior to regionalizing.  In fact, the Middletown City Council has already paid their deficit with ARPA funds.  Newport Public Schools has a $5.5M surplus.  

 2.  Taxpayers in Newport WILL benefit from regionalization.  Newport will receive a $46M reimbursement from the state for the Rogers High School construction, and the Pell School addition if question 5 is passed.  This reimbursement will be paid over the life of the 25-year bond, in two installments per year equaling $1.8M per year.  Is this not a benefit to the taxpayer?  We will also receive a $2.5M reimbursement per year, from the state, exclusively for busing.   Further cost savings from consolidation and economies of scale will benefit the taxpayer as well.

3.   Students in Newport WILL have the opportunity to benefit from regionalization.  Middletown is clearly doing a better job as reflected in recent released SAT scores.  Only 7.9% of economically disadvantaged students in Newport are meeting or exceeding expectations while in Middletown that figure is 22.3%.  At the same time, 64.4% of economically disadvantaged students in Newport are not meeting expectations, but in Middletown the percentage is lower at 39%.  Based on these facts, does it not make sense for Newport to merge with a community with better test scores and share ideas to improve our student’s education?

4.  Many opponents are arguing that if Question 5 passes that it is not true regionalization, but what is true regionalization?  We will have one superintendent, one budget, one curriculum, one system of busing, one school committee.  We will have more flexibility to support our students and it’s up to the community to decide how we move forward together. 

Support question 5 for the benefit of both the taxpayers and the students.  

James Dring