Photo Credit: Town of Middletown

By Matt Sheley, Town of Middletown

The Town Council wants to keep area state legislators busy this General Assembly session.

On Monday night in Town Hall, local leaders discussed how they’d like to see lawmakers work on boosting school building construction reimbursements, state educational aid and assistance for upgrading infrastructure, among other items.

State Senator Louis P. DiPalma, State Representatives Terri-Denise Cortvriend and Alex Finkelman were on hand for the discussion. 

“It’s great to see the items on the legislative agenda,” DiPalma said. “I think they all resonate.”

“I will do whatever I can to work with you,” Cortvriend said. 

“Whatever happens, we’ll fight for Middletown and advocate for Middletown,” Finkelman said.

Early every year, the council sits down with local legislators to go over a list of priorities for lawmakers to address upstate.

The idea is that by meeting with council and town leaders, legislators better understand the time, energy and nuance that goes into each item addressed at the state capitol.

Some — like help redeveloping the lower Aquidneck Avenue area (also known as the Atlantic Beach District) — have been on the legislative agenda for years. Others — such as the school construction legislation — are new and address a time specific matter. 

Town Administrator Shawn J. Brown went through Middletown’s objectives, using a computer slideshow presentation for support.

The trio of legislators sat in the front row, listening as Brown described the town’s needs and why the changes were necessary.

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Photo Credit: Town of Middletown

Other items broached by Brown and council included:

  • Changing how the student census is measured annually and adopt a three to five year moving average to smooth changes in the student population in the schools. 
  • Boosting the reimbursement for students requiring high-cost special education services.
  • Increasing the reimbursement for English Language Learners.
  • Growing the amount of support provided for after school programs, which have been shown to help student achievement.
  • Providing funding to help pay for universal pre-kindergarten, should the program become a reality across the state.
  • Supporting upcoming requests from the town for capital improvements to the lower Aquidneck Avenue business district.
  • Backing the town’s anticipated requests to Rhode Island Commerce and the state Department of Transportation for the redevelopment of 15 underused acres on West Main Road between Coddington Highway and the intersection with Valley Road.
  • Moving up the timeline on a installation of a shared East Main Road bicycle path from 2029 to now.

Legislators said they welcomed suggestions from the town and would work to try to get passage of as many recommendations as possible.

“These are very reasonable requests and I think they could been seen favorably by all communities across the state,” Brown said.

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