Involve Newport’s Education Working Group provides a space for residents to raise their questions related to public education in Newport and to work together to understand current issues or proposals, such as the regionalization ballot question in 2022. The Working Group has in-person meetings and maintains an email-based open forum for questions and answers. The group has identified three priority areas of interest – Funding, Narrative and Outcomes Measurement – and looks forward to the anticipated next Strategic Planning process for NPS. However, questions of all shapes and sizes can be raised and discussed at any time for “crowd-sourcing” or elevation to elected officials or administration.
At the February in-person meeting, a few odds and ends surfaced for discussion, as follows:
1) Does Newport Public Schools pay for bus service for children residing in Newport to attend private schools?
- Currently, YES, as required by state law so long as the schools are within Newport’s “region” which includes Middletown, Portsmouth, Tiverton and Little Compton. It is unclear what the cost to Newport Public Schools is for this service; it seems one would have to take a deep dive into the route details in the busing contract.
- Here is the language and the link to the state law:
- “A pupil attending a school, including a … a nonpublic nonprofit school for grades kindergarten through twelve (12), … shall be provided with bus transportation to the school or facility which the pupil attends, within the region in which the pupil resides, by the school committee of the city or town within which the pupil resides.” http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/Statutes/TITLE16/16-21.1/16-21.1-2.htm
2) Is there a significant dropoff of enrollment from 4th grade (elementary) to 5th grade (middle)? What is the easiest way to find this enrollment data by year and by grade?
- The most recent three years of enrollment data by grade from 2019 – 2022, measured in October each year, did not show a drop specifically from 4th-5th grade, but rather showed overall declining enrollment throughout the elementary and middle years (detailed data attached to this email). Even without the detailed data, it is clear to this [Working] group that the declining enrollment at Pell and Thompson is a concern for Newport and needs to be countered by more proactive measures to recruit families to choose NPS. Additionally, we need to consider the impact that other issues such as housing have on residents choosing Newport for family life, which was one of the reasons that the Involve board created a Housing Working Group at its last meeting.
3) Is the Met School a charter school, and how many students from Newport are attending the Met School?
- 25 Newport kids currently attend The Met School. At an average of 6.25 kids per grade, this isn’t currently a brain drain for Newport Public Schools, which is one of the primary concerns about the impact of charter and charter-look-alike schools on traditional district schools. The story of the Met is fairly interesting but in my opinion not particularly relevant to our top priorities right now as a group. Different opinions always welcome!