I want to first thank the Newport Daily News for its extensive coverage of our referendum drive. Newport Daily News is our community paper, binding our residents through knowledge of local events. The more facts we know the stronger we are-Thank You to Jim Johnson and NDN!
We are at the mid-way point of our campaign and a little more than half-way to reaching our goal of 1,500 signatures. I want to thank all the volunteers who have been canvassing neighborhoods and standing at sporting fields - they are the unsung heroes for our schools. I also want to thank the residents who have signed the petition for their support. As we come to our final turn, I wanted to put forth some truths as simply as I can. The Referendum requests the schools receive 1.5% more than last year. This is below inflation and represents a “bare-bones” budget for the Schools. There are no salary increases for our teachers other than the mandated step increases in the first ten years. Concessions have been made by the teachers in the past and will be made in the future. Do you know Portsmouth per pupil expense is $11,500 and ranks 34th of 36 Districts. This includes all salary, benefits and operational expenses. This compares to over $15,000 in Middletown and $18,000 in Newport. The referendum seeks to counter the Town Council’s cut of $1.1 million from the School Committee’s budget; that amount is less in a total dollar amount than this year. The Schools cannot run on that budget, so we have a choice. We can have a referendum were everyone in the Town can vote (up or down) at a cost of $15,000; or, we can spend as a Town $300,000+ on studies, reports, and legal fees on the second Caruolo law suit in five years. We implore you to support the referendum as the best and least expensive alternative.
You can follow the petition drive at www.sosportsmouth.com. We will be at the High School Friday night from 4-7, or until you have had a chance to sign. Come down and supPORT SCHOOLS.
David D. Croston