Letter to the Editor – Newport Public Schools ALN Forum

On Thursday, March 10th the Alliance For A Livable Newport (ALN) held one our most important public forums of the year featuring the Newport Public Schools (NPS). Even though advance publicity was good; the turnout was disappointing. This was unfortunate in that the presentation by School Committee members and School Administration officers was outstanding. Their plans for continuous improvement were informative, comprehensive and impressive.

View the presentation slides here: >> NPS ALN Presentation Final-03102016

Npt_Public_Schools_Presentation

A small, but well-informed audience raised important issues. One asked if opportunity remains for high school regionalization among Aquidneck communities and learned that this may still be possible, but will require concentrated effort to overcome negative stereotypes about Newport schools. In fact, opportunities exist today that allow our students to attend classes in other districts, and a unique “schools within a school” curriculum has been developed at Rogers High School to custom tailor educational opportunities for college and work force readiness. “Every student will now graduate with a plan,” promised NPS School Superintendent, Colleen Jermain.

Our schools – Newport’s largest budget expenditure and our hope for the future – have been the brunt of long standing criticism. The presentations belied such an impression. At the end of the evening, cautious optimism prevailed. The Superintendent is committed to community outreach, developing partnerships with businesses, families, and residents. This is the concept of “One Newport” that anchors the NPS Five Year Strategic Plan now in development. It will come to pass only if the community is willing to engage and commit to our schools. Apathy, as evidenced by the low turnout, appears to be our biggest hurdle.

As a member of the strategic planning process and having attended over a dozen meetings, I’ve been converted from a skeptic to an enthusiastic supporter of our public schools and their future plans.

No one involved denies there is a lot of heavy lifting ahead to improve graduation rates, test scores, truancy levels and early childhood school readiness. Yet even today, we have a lot to be proud of. You don’t believe me? See for yourself. The slides from the Forum and a summary of the Five Year Plan are on the ALN website at www.newportalliance.org.

The NPS Strategic Planning Committee is actively looking for volunteers to serve on seven important and far ranging sub-committees. If you are willing to commit your time, energy and experience, contact strategicplanning@npsri.net. Whether you volunteer or not, we all should be better informed about our City’s public schools. They are our responsibility; they serve our children and our future.

As Jimmy Buffet sings, “Is it ignorance or apathy? Hey, I don’t know and I don’t care.”

Sincerely and with hope for Newport’s future,

Isabel Griffith

Co-President

Alliance for a Livable Newport

 

RHODE ISLAND’S DIPLOMA SYSTEM & RI STATE GRADUATION REQUIREMENTS

Commissioner Wagner & the Rhode Island Department of Education invite YOU to participate in a community conversation to inform RHODE ISLAND’S DIPLOMA SYSTEM & RI STATE GRADUATION REQUIREMENTS   DiplomaSystemPoster-2016Conv

Newport County Community Conversation
Wednesday, March 23, 2016
6:00-7:30pm
Middletown High School

Auditorium on the lower level
We Hope to See You There!

DiplomaLogo_Web

The Rhode Island Diploma System Preparing all students for success in college, careers, and life

Rhode Island has implemented a statewide diploma system to ensure access for all middle and high school students to rigorous, high quality, personalized learning opportunities and pathways.

http://www.ride.ri.gov/StudentsFamilies/RIPublicSchools/DiplomaSystem.aspx#12544-students

2020 VISION FOR EDUCATION:
RHODE ISLAND’S STRATEGIC PLAN FOR PK-12 & ADULT EDUCATION,
2015-2020

http://ride.ri.gov/Portals/0/Uploads/Documents/Board-of-Education/Strategic-Plan/2020VisionForEducation.pdf
We hope to engage a broad group of community members including representatives from elementary schools as well as secondary schools This is a timely opportunity with the recent adoption of our state’s most innovative & collaborative strategic plan to date.

RIDE has continued that collaborative process by convening a series of meetings with school based leadership groups and these community conversations will enhance that work.

The community conversations will include a brief presentation and a community response panel with opportunities for attendees to ask questions and provide feedback.

 

City of Newport – Comprehensive Land Use Plan Update Kick-Off Meeting, October 13th

http://cityofnewport.com/departments/planning-development/comprehensive-land-use-plan

WHEN: Tuesday October 13th  6:30-8:30pm

WHERE: Pell School | 35 Dexter St., Newport RI

Comprehensive Land Use Plan

The City of Newport and the Planning Board are in process of updating the Newport Comprehensive Land Use Plan. This update includes only the updating of data and statistics to keep the document that was adopted in 2004 in compliance with current State requirements.

The State of Rhode Island has issued new requirements for municipalities to include in their next Comprehensive Plan. After the data revisions are complete and adopted, Newport will begin the process of reviewing and revising the entire document to bring it in compliance with the new State regulations that go into effect as of June 1st, 2016.

The following links contain the 2004 Comprehensive Land Use Plan as adopted in 2004 by the City Council. This document forms the legal basis for all land use decisions made by the City as well as Zoning Ordinances and Land Development – Subdivision Regulations. All Zoning and Land Development Amendments enacted must be in compliance with the adopted Comprehensive Land Use Plan.

Newport – “Learn about the ballot issues and hear from the Candidates.”

Brought to you by the Alliance for a Livable Newport. “Voting is a right best exercised by people who have taken time to learn about the issues.”

election 2014

YOUR ALLIANCE FOR A LIVABLE NEWPORT ENCOURAGES YOU TO…

Learn about the ballot issues and from the candidates….BEFORE voting on November 4th

Go on-line to view videos of ALN’s 5 Public Forums:

http://newportalliance.org/videos/

– Newport City Council 2 & 3rd Ward Candidates

– Newport City Council at Large Candidates

– Newport School Committee Candidates

– Ballot Questions #1 & 2 (Casino)

– Ballot Questions #3-20 (State & Local)

Then read Council and School Committee candidates’ written responses to questions posed by the voters. You will also find a mini-guide to the 20 state and local ballot questions.

http://newportalliance.org/2014-candidates-questionnaires-city-council-and-school-committee-2/

www.NewportAlliance.org

Improving the quality of life in Newport by being an unbiased resource for information on the issues of importance to our Community

Won’t you join ALN and help support our efforts?

http://newportalliance.org/join/membership/

The Newport Daily News says; “Let charter proposals go to voters!”

Sign the petition here! http://newportalliance.org/sign-the-petition-asking-newport-city-council-to-allow-voters-to-decide-ward-representation-issues/

Published in The Newport Daily News, Tuesday, July 22, 2014 newportri

Since last November, a Charter Review Commission has been meeting regularly, including holding a number of public hearings, to discuss potential changes to Newport’s charter.

 But earlier this month, the City Council by a 5-2 vote rejected the commission’s major recommendations, including changing the number of voting wards in the city and how School Committee members would be elected.

“There is not much left of our recommendations,” Isabel Griffith, commission chairwoman, said after the July 10 vote. “Obviously, the City Council members feel they know better than ourselves what is best for us.”

The council will get a chance to change its mind this week, when the recommendations will come up for reconsideration during its meeting Wednesday night. We hope it will reverse course and send all 20 recommendations to voters on Nov. 4.

Any personal objections council members may have with the recommendations should not interfere with the decision to send the proposed amendments to voters. Earlier this year, for example, council members speedily approved asking voters to approve table games for Newport Grand, regardless of their individual stances on gambling, citing the “people’s right to decide.”

Why shouldn’t the people of Newport decide whether to fundamentally change the way their council and school leaders are elected?

During public forums held by the Charter Review Commission, Griffith said speakers overwhelmingly spoke in favor of wards, or voting districts.

“They wanted more wards,” she said. “Some wanted seven wards. We decided to compromise and increase the wards by one and have them for the School Committee as well.”

Before 2004, there were four wards in the city, with a council member representing each ward, and three at-large council members, elected by all the city’s voters. The current seven-member City Council has three members who are elected from three wards and four at-large council members.

Under the commission’s recommendation, four School Committee members also would be elected from the redrawn wards in the city, and three members would be elected at-large. Currently, all seven School Committee members are elected at-large, and have been for decades.

Commission members said they wanted the structure of elections for the council and School Committee to be the same, and thought there would be more candidates for School Committee if some were elected by ward.

The City Council last had a Charter Review Commission in 2007, and the council at that time allowed all recommended changes to go to the voters.

While we are among those who were disappointed the current commission didn’t make recommendations on more weighty issues — such as whether the mayor should be elected by voters, rather than as council chairman by his peers — we recognize the work that went into crafting the recommendations it did present to the council, and hope the council will do the same.

READ MORE HERE; http://www.newportri.com/our-view-let-charter-proposals-go-to-voters/article_333b0d9a-bc6a-5170-a5ee-c16283e4503e.html

The Finance Review Committee (FRC) and Charter Review Commission (CRC)

Official seal of Newport, Rhode Island
Official seal of Newport, Rhode Island (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

ALN Hosts Finance and Charter Panels

By Barry Bridges

The Finance Review Committee (FRC) and Charter Review Commission (CRC) recently discussed their findings in a public forum sponsored by Alliance for a Livable Newport. After months of work, their reports were presented to City Council on May 28 and are presently under consideration.

The FRC, under the leadership of Ronald Becker, compiled a lengthy list of ideas for city leaders with the goal of creating efficiencies and saving money. The recommendations were grouped into broad categories of city services, schools, financial planning, tax exempt property, tourism, and salaries and benefits.

Concerning the schools, the FRC proposed creating a dedicated grant-writing position; combining the city and school finance functions under one department; improving communications through the city/school liaison subcommittee; and implementing strategies to reduce high per-pupil expenditures.

Other ideas included pursuing payments-in-lieu-of-taxes from tax exempt entities and increasing parking meter revenues by expanding hours and street coverage. The panel also offered specific changes to pensions and medical benefits to improve Newport’s bottom line.

Becker emphasized that at this point, all of the proposals are recommendations for action by the council. The committee hopes to receive steady progress reports on the status of its suggestions until all points have been implemented or rejected.

In a parallel effort, the CRC, spearheaded by Isabel Griffith, studied whether amendments to Newport’s Charter could result in more efficient city operations.

Griffith told forum participants that “when we began work, we were charged by the mayor with what we were supposed to do, and one of the things he said was ‘don’t avoid any topics.’”

In that vein, some topics quickly grabbed attention, such as whether the School Committee should be appointed and whether the council should have staggered terms. In the end, the CRC considered but did not endorse changes in those areas of city government.

“The interesting thing that people have mentioned is that with the hot-button issues we recommended no change,” said Griffith. “However, the decisions we made not to change the charter are just as strong, in my opinion, as our decisions to suggest where changes should be made.”

Griffith continued, “I would say that the most interesting change we suggested has been the one having to do with the increase in the number of wards from which the council is elected.” Newport is currently divided into three wards, but the CRC would like to see that number increased to four, with three seats remaining at-large.

Other ideas include mandating that the council regularly review all of its boards and commissions for effectiveness, and, in a nod to the FRC, creating a new section in the charter to permit the merging of the city’s financial department with that of the schools.

Any changes ultimately made to the charter would have to first be approved by the electorate.

CRC member Lauren Carson said, “It’s very important to know that our ideas came from the public. We did the best we could to listen and shape those ideas into a proposal. The City Council will see [our ideas] first, and they will give each recommendation a thumbs up or thumbs down. Those with a thumbs up will then go to all the voters. So, it’s still open to public discussion and it’s still open to examination.”

To get on November’s ballot, measures have to be in the Secretary of State’s office in early August. With this deadline in mind, councilors are due to debate the CRC report at their next meeting on Wednesday, July 9.

Feb. 8th! The Newport IT working group afterschool program called the Thompson Techno Expo

The Newport IT working group has been putting on an after school program called the Thompson Techno Expo.  We are culminating with a public expo on February 8th with the intent of the students teaching the community about our local communication infrastructure.

It’s been a lot of work and we’re hoping its a beta project for other after school programs.

 

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2 Important new websites – Engage Newport + Mind Mixer are live! What does this mean for Newport?

Engage Newport Logo

Engage Newport is an evolving forum for opinions and ideas about our city’s major initiatives. Alongside elected representatives, local media and community organizations, Engage Newport is another channel of communication between city government and the people of Newport.

Opinion Newport is home to an ongoing series of surveys about major city issues and initiatives affecting Newport’s future. Starting with community resilience in the face of rising sea levels, you are invited to join the conversation about what matters to you.

This section shares select information and opinion from a City government perspective. Be sure to visit the city’s home page at www.cityofnewport.com to navigate the full spectrum of city services, city calendars and more.

This series of articles will highlight and explain opportunities for public engagement in shaping the future of our community. Learn more about your elected representatives , boards and commissions , & community organizations

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POLL: #1 Newport: RI’s Best Communities 2013

Newport Harbor

Surrounded by a sprawling waterfront, Newport was fittingly titled the “Birthplace of the Navy.” Since its establishment as a city, this highly visited community has enjoyed a history of progress and success. In fact, Newport has more standing buildings built before 1830 than any other American community. It offers cruises, excursion boats, city tours, golf, and fishing among other things for visitors making it one of the most desired tourist destinations in the country.

http://www.golocalprov.com/news/1-newport-ris-best-communities-2013/

Newport by the numbers

Established: 1639
Population: 24,672
Median household income: $58,080
Median housing price: $352,500

2013 Best Communities rankings

Overall ranking: 1
Affordability ranking: 38
Education ranking: 35
Economic Condition ranking: 17
Safety ranking: 35
Arts & Culture ranking: 1

Famous residents

Benedict Arnold, (governor) of Rhode Island
William Coddington, governor of Rhode Island
John Clarke, Baptist minister and drafter of the Royal Charter
Nicholas Easton, governor of Rhode Island
George Berkeley, philosopher
Louis Alexandre Berthier, French Army officer, later Marshal of France and Napoleon’s chief of staff
William Ellery, signer of the Declaration of Independence
Robert Feke, portrait painter
Peter Harrison, architect
Samuel Hopkins (clergyman), Congregational minister, Calvinist theologian and pioneer leader for abolition of the slave trade
Aaron Lopez, prominent merchant
Louis-Marie, vicomte de Noailles, French army officer
Jean-Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau, French general
Charles Theodore Pachelbel, first organist of Newport’s Trinity Church and son of Johann Pachelbel
William Selby, organist (Trinity Church) and composer
John Smybert, artist
Ezra Stiles, minister, diarist, and President of Yale
Gilbert Stuart, portrait painter
Isaac Touro, hazzan at Synagogue
Judah Touro, prominent merchant and philanthropist
Vice-Admiral Sir Jahleel Brenton, Royal Navy
William Ellery Channing, one of the foremost Unitarian preachers of the 19th century
George Bancroft, historian, Secretary of the Navy, diplomat, and summer resident
August Belmont, financier
Ambrose Burnside, Army officer stationed at Fort Adams, later a Civil War general, governor, and senator
Julia Ward Howe, author and summer resident
Henry James, author
William James, Harvard professor
John Kensett, artist
Clement C. Moore, summer resident and author of ‘Twas the Night before Christmas
Levi P. Morton, summer resident and donor of Morton Park, later Vice President of the United States
Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, hero of the War of 1812
William Trost Richards, artist
Milton H. Sanford, textile magnate and thoroughbred racehorse owner
Richard Upjohn, architect
Louis Agaziz, scientist and adventurer
Caroline Webster Schermerhorn Astor, socialite
Alva Belmont, socialite and leader of women’s rights movement
Charles D. Barney, socialite, banker, founder of Smith Barney Brokerage
Oliver Hazard Perry Belmont, socialite, builder of Belcourt Castle
James Gordon Bennett, Jr. newspaper publisher and yachtsman
Ogden Codman, designer
Richard Morris Hunt, architect
William Morris Hunt, artist
John LaFarge, artist
Pierre Lorillard, tobacco manufacturer
Rear Admiral Stephen B. Luce, founder, Naval War College
Captain Alfred Thayer Mahan, naval historian and strategist
Ward McAllister, flamboyant raconteur of high society, coined the term ‘the 400’ for the New York social elite
Charles McKim, architect
H.H. Ricardson, architect
Edith B. Price, writer and illustrator
Horace Trumbauer, architect
Alva Vanderbilt Wife of William K. Vanderbilt, early feminist and active in the women’s suffrage movement
Consuelo Vanderbilt, daughter of W.K. and Alva Vanderbilt; Duchess of Marlborough
Cornelius Vanderbilt II heir to Vanderbilt fortune, Chairman of New York Central Railroad
William Kissam Vanderbilt heir to Vanderbilt fortune, noted yachtsman
Edith Wharton, author
Stanford White, architect
Edward Malbone, artist and miniaturist
Caleb Gardner, captain and counsul of the French Empire
Thomas Harper Ince, actor
Ida Lewis, lighthouse keeper credited with saving 18 lives in Newport Harbor throughout the nineteenth century; she received national attention and numerous honors. A United States Coast Guard buoy tender bears her name
Matthew C. Perry, Commodore of the U.S. Navy who forced the opening of Japan to the West with the Convention of Kanagawa in 1854, under the threat of military force
Harry Anderson, actor and comedian
Nadia Bjorlin, soap opera actress (Days of our Lives)
Frank Corridon, who pitched for the Chicago Cubs, Philadelphia Phillies, and St. Louis Cardinals and is known for inventing the now illegal pitch, the spitball
Tanya Donelly, musician, vocalist for Rhode Island-based bands Belly and Throwing Muses, as well as guitarist for the band The Breeders
Leon Wilkeson, bass guitarist
Charlie Fern, White House speechwriter, journalist.
Van Johnson, actor, known best for “all-American” roles in MGM films during World War II.
Mena Suvari, actress, known best for her role as the vampish cheerleader with whom Kevin Spacey’s character is obsessed in the 1999 film American Beauty.
Laura Jane Barney socialite, philanthropist, Smith Barney Brokerage heiress Champ Soleil Mansion on Belleveue Ave
Admiral Jeremy Michael Boorda, 25th Chief of Naval Operations
John Nicholas Brown, socialite, yachtsman and philanthropist
The Cowsills, a popular 1960s pop/flower power band that had a #2 hit with The Rain, The Park, And Other Things in 1967
Doris Duke, tobacco heiress and philanthropist
President Dwight D. Eisenhower, located his summer White House at Newport
Fleet Admiral William F. Halsey, Jr.
Paul L. Gaines, first African-American to be elected mayor of a New England city
Kristin Hersh, musician, vocalist for Rhode Island-based band Throwing Muses, 50 Foot Wave and solo artist.
Fleet Admiral Ernest King, Chief of Naval Operations, 1941–1945
MacGillivray Milne, 27th Governor of American Samoa, 1936–1938
Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz, Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, 1942–1945; Chief of Naval Operations
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, summer resident and First Lady
Claiborne Pell, socialite and U.S. Senator
Admiral William Sims, commander of U.S. Naval Forces in Europe 1917–1919
Admiral Raymond Spruance, the victor of Midway and later President, Naval War College
Harold Vanderbilt, yachtsman and bridge player (inventor of contract bridge)
Paul Gordon – keyboardist and guitarist with Goo Goo Dolls, New Radicals, Lisa Marie Presley and currently The B-52’s
Joanna Going, Actress
Richard Hatch, first winner of the realty television show Survivor
Richard Saul Wurman, architect, graphic designer and founder of the TED Conferences
Sheldon Whitehouse, U.S. Senator

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