We oppose the city council voting to move the application for $173 million dollar bond issue for a new high school in Newport before all avenues of options are explored. It appears to me and many of citizens that the political class is rushing to get funding from the state without considering all viable options!
We want the Council to vote no for approving the phase one state approval for $173 million dollar bond issue for a replacement for Rogers High School.
The idea of spending $100 million dollars to $200 million dollars for 600 students is ridiculous without investigating other reasonable solutions for the citizens of Newport.
The city council has to be fiscally responsible to the taxpayers of Newport and exercise good judgment in spending our limited resources, we want them to vote NO.
Our message to the Council and the Newport School Board is straightforward:
- We think the process should be slowed; keep working on regionalization and exhaust all other possibilities. . . including closing Rogers and sending students to Middletown and Portsmouth paying their tuition. There’s no reason to rush to set up a path that might be regretted in the future.
- One possibility is to concentrate on how to fix up Rogers to get a few more years out of it.Perhaps spend under $10MM.
- The offer of 35% funding will not go away permanently. It is not an excuse to expedite this process. (That money is also money we pay as taxpayers – it’s not a free gift from the state.)
- Also, we believe the day of building a high school for 600 students has passed; if any new ones are built they should be built for 3000 students or more. Further, since the truancy rate at Rogers is at 38% the actual number of students attending is more like 300+!
- Student population, and Newport population, has been steadily declining because of high taxes and real estate, poor quality of schools, and increasing tourism. There’s not reason to think that the population trends will reverse themselves. It’s time to face reality and ask the tough question of how many students will be in high school in Newport twenty years from now. Many families with children cannot afford to live in Newport.
- We are NOT against good schools for our kids, but our schools are not good now and our kids are not getting a quality education. This lessens dramatically a desire to throw more money after bad. No one needs a “Taj Mahal” facility to provide a lousy education.
- Finally, we seriously doubt voters will approve any bond issue in the $175-million dollar range, or even one for $100-million. The one that passed finally for Thompson school took many years to get that through.
- We also have no faith that any project will come in on budget.
- Finally, just for comparison, to build a high school today, the median cost is $45 million and provides 173,727 square feet. It is designed to accommodate 1,000 students. The median high schoolprovides 180 square feet per student at $49,000 for each student. The cost per square foot is $235.29.
- How anyone can estimate $175-million given the conditions I’ve outlined has to be crazy.