Frequently Asked Questions

What must happen on November 8 for regionalization to pass? Residents in both communities must approve regionalization, and Middletown residents must also authorize a $235 million bond.
Who owns the buildings? The City of Newport and the Town of Middletown may lease buildings to the regional school committee for $1 a year.
Will the district need to keep up with the maintenance and operations of the facilities? Yes. The regional school district will be responsible for the operations and maintenance of their facilities.
How are expenses split between Middletown and Newport? The total education costs of the regional district will be shared proportionally by both Middletown and Newport based on enrollment. Payments and federal and state aid associated with the students or programs of one member city or town shall, to the extent permitted by law, be allocated to that city or town and counted towards that city or town's proportionate share of costs.
Can the future regional school committee decide to consolidate schools? Yes. The regional school committee is empowered to operate and exercise care and control of all public schools, including land, buildings, for the joint use of all students in the district.
Will the regional school committee have to go to both city/town councils to ask for municipal funds? The regional school committee will work with the regional finance committee to determine the district's budget.
Will more or fewer teachers be hired? The same number of students will need to be educated in a combined district. No significant change in the number of teachers is expected. Regionalization involves the consolidation of administrative functions, but classroom staffing needs remain substantially the same.
What about retirement pensions? Current retirement plans are fixed and paid for by the city/town and will not change because of regionalization.
How are future buildings funded? Future construction projects will be funded by the regional school district. Cost will be shared proportionally by both Middletown and Newport based on enrollment.
What is the risk that the finance team will force schools to be underfunded? The legislation was designed to mitigate the risk of underfunded or, conversely, over-taxation through balanced representation. The regional finance team has members from both Middletown and Newport. The finance committee must work with the regional school committee to establish budgets, and each committee will perpetually have balanced representation (If the school committee is 4-7 Middletown-Newport, the finance committee will be split 4-7 Newport-Middletown and vice-versa).
What is school regionalization?Regionalization is the merging of two districts into one; governed by a single regional school committee and a single administration. Middletown and Newport would combine their school districts, education committees, and central office and staff.
What is the goal of the Middletown-Newport school regionalization?The regionalization merges programs and operations to benefit students and taxpayers. Regionalization will create operating efficiencies, concentrate resources, and maximize state aid.
What are the educational benefits?Possible benefits include expanded educational offerings, more opportunities for universal pre-K, and additional academic and career tech programs.
What are the state funding incentives?RIDE reimburses communities for eligible projects up to 52.5 percent on new construction. With Middletown and Newport teaming up, those reimbursements increase to 80 percent. This means the state would pay repay 80 cents of every dollar spent on new school construction.
How much money could we save?The Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) did an early analysis comparing a combined Middletown-Newport school district to similar-sized districts in the state. RIDE found that our two communities spend about $5 million more than comparable districts due to duplicated operational and capital costs. That’s $5 million that could be used to develop additional educational programs, lower taxes, or cover important capital improvements in each community. Plus, there are significant savings through state reimbursements. More thorough analyses are underway and will be delivered this summer.
Where will my child go to school?School attendance will be determined by residency, just as it is now. Any changes to existing policy would be determined by the new regional school committee, which would be elected in November 2023.
Who is going to run the new district?A regional school committee will be elected in November 2023.
How is the new regionalized school board elected?Newport and Middletown voters will vote on a full slate of candidates from each community. The top three vote-getters in Newport and Middletown would take regional school board seats. The seventh and final spot would go to the candidate with the highest remaining vote total from either community. For fairness, the community that didn’t have the majority on the regional school committee would have the majority on the seven-member regional finance committee, which is appointed by the councils and administrator/manager.
When would the first election be?You would choose the first regional school board in a special election on Nov. 7, 2023. Those members would serve for three years to get us back on the regular election cycle in November 2026. From then on, the seats would be two-year terms.
When would the regional school district go live?The regional district’s first official business day would be July 1, 2024.
What happens between the election and the first day of the new regional school district?The existing schools will stay open under their existing frameworks until July 2024, when the regional school district is up and running. At the same time, on a parallel track, the regional school committee would be moving forward with the important business at hand, especially selecting a superintendent, business manager, and other administrative staff.
How will details such as curriculum be determined?The regional school committee and its administration would be responsible for determining the curriculum.
What happens if the regionalization question is approved, but the bond question fails or vice versa in Newport or Middletown?Regionalization will happen when all three questions get voter approval.
What’s in it for the two communities?New learning spaces for students. Cost savings on capital projects and operations allow for greater resources in the classroom, which create opportunities to enhance programs and activities, including expanded career pathway opportunities.
Is this just about money?Yes, no, maybe. We have to pay for school buildings, teachers, and books. The more money our communities can save and also get from the state in aid directly drives the condition of our facilities, the salaries of our teachers, and the learning opportunities available to our kids.
I don’t have kids. Why should I care?The quality of local schools has a profound effect on the health of a community. There’s a direct relationship between education level, poverty rates, and crime. Also, good schools draw top businesses who want quality education for employees’ families and skilled workers for the future.
What does regionalization look like in other communities?In other parts of the United States, school boards offer different class opportunities at different schools and allow students to attend a school based on their interests. For example, a student who wants a specific AP, foreign language, career technology, or IT program can apply to attend the high school that best meets their needs. As the regionalized school district model develops, Middletown and Newport could consider school-of-choice options. In the future, as the curriculum is enhanced, the regional school committee will evaluate how programs and other opportunities are shared. The upcoming public meetings are a way for the communities to speak about what they want to see in their schools.
Are meetings open to the public?Yes, public (in-person and virtual) meetings are scheduled to gather information on what you want from regionalized schools. The schedule of events and other supporting documents can be found using the tabs at the top of this page.