Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Referendum Open House Handout

October 5th

Dear Parents:

On October 5th Portsmouth will have a critical ballot election. The ballot will read as follows:

You may vote for one of the following:

1. The Portsmouth Town Council appropriation for the School Department Budget shall remain unchanged in the amount of $35,527,720.00.

2. The Portsmouth Town Council appropriation for the School Department Budget shall be increased by $765,301.00 to a total appropriation of $36,293,021.00.

Approve Option 1
Approve Option 2



Reason #1 – A Reasonable Increase

The current Town Council budget provides the schools less money to operate this year than last year. The $765,301 request represents a 1.5% increase from last year. This will allow the schools to operate in a similar fashion to last year. Without this money the Schools will be in crisis and will face the elimination of programs, a crisis we believe our school system will NEVER recover from!

Reason #2 – Significant cuts have been made

Already this year the School Committee eliminated 12.6 full-time equivalent positions from the budget. And, we sadly said goodbye to all the fond memories of the Elmhurst School. This on top of a long line of cuts to our system has made for the better part of the last decade; and, we are at the edge of our education cliff.

Reason #3 – We are an efficient system

Portsmouth has consistently delivered in the top fifth in academic achievement over the past decade, while being in the bottom fifth of per-pupil expenses. In fact, Portsmouth has consistently delivered the best value for the money in Rhode Island. In RIPEC’s report, RESULTS Education in Rhode Island 2010, Portsmouth is 33rd of 36 districts in per pupil expenditure. Portsmouth is well below the Suburban Average of per-pupil spending and $thousands (per pupil) below our regional neighbors Middletown and Newport.

Reason #4 – It's only going to get worse

Our legacy of frugality only hurt us in the new State Education Aid Formula relative to Portsmouth’s ability to pay. And, Portsmouth will lose $207,000 per year for the next ten years under the formula, a total of 2,070,000. One-time American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding will disappear after this year. We simply cannot run our system without these Referendum funds.

Reason #5 – Portsmouth is a leader

Many of our families moved to Portsmouth specifically for the school system. We believe a strong school system is this town greatest asset. Portsmouth leads in alternative energy. Portsmouth leads in open space. Portsmouth needs to lead in education to maintain our community’s collective value. A one percent devaluation in the average home is $3,500, a reasonable decrease if we had an underfunded school system. That represents 49 years of the increase proposed in the referendum.

Reason #6 – $6 per month

Were the referendum to be successful, the average home will see a $71.40 increase, or less than $6 per month. We, like many of you, have struggled these past few years; but, it's now that we need education, sports, guidance, arts, theater, and music more than ever. Those most affected by this economy need the stability our schools offer - it simply is not the time to abandon our schools.

Reason #7 – The referendum is binding

The School Committee voted on September 14th not to seek a Caruolo Act suit were the referendum to be unsuccessful. They voted to put their faith in this community to decide its own fate. We do support this, we need to decide (once and for all) what level of education we want in Portsmouth. Did we move here for the State Basic Education Plan or did we move here because there is magic in band, wonder in the art works of our students, and true success in our classrooms.

Reason #8 – Truly great things lie ahead

There is a vision of Portsmouth’s education future and it is bright. We need your vote to enable us time to affect change, to build a 21st Century education model, and to work with the community in an open and inviting manner.

We ask for your support at the polling booth on October 5th. This is a special election that replaces the old tent meeting. Absentee ballots are available for college-age students, military, and those unable to be in Portsmouth that day. We encourage you to speak to friends and family of the importance of this vote. Our children and grandchildren deserve a rigorous and well-rounded education.

Vote OPTION 2 on October 5th!

Voting Locations

2701 Prudence Island
2706, 2707 & 2708 Town Hall
2702 & 2703 Multi-Purpose Senior Center
2709, 2710 & 2712 Aquidneck Christian Academy
2704 & 2705 Common Fence Point Community Hall

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