Letter to the Editor: Please vote to approve the Middletown School Bond on November 7th

The school bond currently before Middletown voters seeks the approval of an unprecedented level of expenditure in our community. School building renovation and replacement has been discussed for the past 2 decades. During this time, committees were formed, studies were undertaken, the best course of action was debated.

Ten years passed before the first substantial decision was made when the voters approved 10 million dollars to address the most glaring deficiencies. The bulk of the work addressed structural components (roof sections and windows) and updating school entry and visitor control vestibules. Unfortunately, we did not gain any educational benefits from this work and there were many more issues to be addressed.

Yet another school building committee was formed in 2021 which began its research by assessing the conditions in our four schools. Needed repairs and efficient upgrades were compiled and the estimated costs were determined to complete all the work. The resulting price tag was $190 million dollars. The committee consulted the town’s finance department and learned the maximum the town could bond without negatively affecting its bond rating (while also considering current and scheduled expenditures) was $112 million dollars.

Projects of this magnitude require the expertise of engineering companies, architectural firms, project managers and educational consultants. The building committee spent hours researching and interviewing these businesses to make certain they had verifiable experience in projects similar to what Middletown envisioned. The resulting team is competent, thorough and works well amongst themselves and with the town.

The building committee team went through months of trying to find the balance between maximizing building enhancements, improved educational experiences and cost to the taxpayers. After multiple proposals, a $60 million dollar plan was endorsed by the council and forwarded to the Rhode Island Department of Education. The application was denied as it only addressed maintenance issues and did nothing to improve the educational experience for our students.

Regionalization with Newport surfaced again but failed to gain the momentum necessary to get it over the finish line. Back to the drawing board the team found themselves rapidly approaching the closing of a state reimbursement window that offered historic levels of state aid. The bond question on Nov 7th represents a collaboration of all the research undertaken through all previous renditions and maximizes the state reimbursements – if approved, 55% of the cost of the new middle high school will be borne by the state.

We have a chance to give our students and teachers brand new educational environment – buildings, efficient heating and cooling, comprehensive security measures, furniture and the latest technology infrastructure. The project will be completed without disruption to the teachers or students.

Please support our schools by voting to approve on November 7th.

– Tom Welch, Middletown Town Councilor




Like Newport Buzz? We depend on the generosity of readers like you who support us, to help with our mission to keep you informed and entertained with local, independent news and content. We truly appreciate your trust and support!