Council, School Committee Discuss Fate of Elementary School Buildings

The Newport School Committee/City Council Liaison Committee met on Wednesday to discuss several agenda items.

Members of the Newport School Committee and City Council Liaison Committee talked Pell School updates, shared services, and budgets during Wednesday’s meeting at City Hall.

The first item on the agenda was the use of existing schools that will be closed as a result of the opening of the Claiborne D. Pell Elementary School in 2013.

City Manager Jane Howington said the city has talked in concept about how to have the buildings opened again and the school and city departments should work together to try to get some planning done.

“When we do an assessment, it may shed light on which buildings will be more marketable or have the highest revenue,” she said.

Superintendent John Ambrogi said it was important to keep at least one building, “for a number of different reasons.”

A main reason to keep at least one building for school use is the possibility of the especially with public housing developments.

The committee then moved on to discuss Both the school committee and the city council voted to consider the benefits of consolidating services.

“The devil is in the details with how the implementation works,” Ambrogi said.

The committee looked to the Westerly School Department’s model, which uses a shared administrator at the top who is evaluated by the school superintendent and city manager.

Ambrogi noted the model did not save the district any money.

Regarding the budget, Howington said the city will be level-funding everyone.

“It is a balanced budget, but it is fairly level funded across the board,” she said. “We did not proposed the maximum levy increase because of the water increase.”

She did say there was room for negotiation and discussion.

Howington said there will be three work sessions for early May to discuss next year’s budget.


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