Saturday, March 10, 2007

All quiet before the vote $10M school renovation on warrant Tuesday

The following piece appeared in the Eagle Times. Take note of the following line from the article below "Establishment of a land purchase capital reserve fund." What the most likely means is that they are going to eventually ask the voters for more money to purchase land, than they will ask for more money to purchase a school, than they will ask for more money to staff the schools. When will the cycle end? If the district is concerned about growth impacting the need for the new schools. The district needs to work with the City of Newport. New developments should not be approved unless the new developments pay for future schools that need to be built. Current residents should not be responsible for the building of new schools that should be the responsibility of the developers of new homes. The city of Newport needs to grow responsibly.

All quiet before the vote
$10M school renovation on warrant Tuesday

Aaron Aldridge
Staff Writer

NEWPORT - Although the public was invited to attend a forum Thursday night on next Tuesday's vote on a $10 million school renovation plan, no residents arrived to discuss the proposal or the budget with board members.

School Board Chairperson Anthony McConnell gave a presentation on the proposed $10.5 million warrant article for an addition at Richards School and renovations at Towle School and the middle high school.

The proposed project includes moving the sixth grade back to Towle School, moving the fourth grade to Richards School, building a large addition at Richards and renovating all three schools in the district to bring them up to health and safety code standards.

A 60 percent majority is needed to pass the bond issue which will have a tax impact of $1.23 per thousand dollars of property value the first year, $2.95 the second year and about 10 cents less each of the following years until the bond is paid off in 2027.

The original proposal before the school board had included a two-story addition at the high school which would have housed all of the middle school students. That proposal was in excess of $15 million and was deemed too expensive by the school board.

The budget plan was also reviewed

"We've kept the budget within a very tight limit this year," board member Kathy Sarles said.

The proposed budget of $14.4 million represents a 3.6 percent increase over this year's budget.

"The budget has no extras that aren't important to our kids' education," board member Holly Harrison said.

"We want folks to understand it is intrinsic to pass this budget," board member Patricia DiPadova said. "I think our budget reflects keeping things pretty much the way they are now."

Reasons for the increase in the budget this year include special education costs, retirement contributions and a possible decline in federal grant revenue, DiPadova said.

If the school budget is approved, the estimated tax impact is $3.21 per thousand dollars of property value. The current local school tax rate is $14.62 per thousand dollars of property value.

"There is the possibility the tax impact could be a lot less," DiPadova said.

Other articles to be voted upon are:

• Withdrawal of $100,000 from the school building capital reserve fund to replace part of the roof at the high school.

• Establishment of a fund for out-of-district placement.

• Add an additional $50,000 to the school renovation capital reserve fund.

• $20,000 for continued planning should the $10.5 million bond fail.

• Establishment of a land purchase capital reserve fund.

Residents will cast their votes 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. on Tuesday at the Newport Opera House.

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