2018-07-12 / Opinion

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Seeds for Success Need Time to Grow

To the Editor:

Looking back over my years of service on the Newport School Committee, I am comfortable saying I’m glad I made the decision to run initially and successfully in the last eight elections.

That initial decision was based on the belief that I could have some influence in improving the climate, culture and educational progress for the children in Newport‘s schools. I believed our schools could be among the best in Rhode Island. I did not see this objective as something that could be achieved by one person. It would have to be a goal of all entities, including elected and appointed city leaders, social agencies, local charitable organizations, as well as the general citizenry. I believed that common goals could be reached, and they have been. It did not impede progress when the citizens of Newport responded in a 2012 survey that education was highly valued.

I decided not to run for re-election because there has been much progress made to improve educational success for our students. My hope that the City’s elected officials would take pride in and ownership of our public schools has been realized. Support of civic organizations, such as One Newport, give me confidence that Newporters will elect those who will continue the growth being made and reject those who would return to past practices of confrontation, micro-management, neglect and confusion.

I’ve lived in Newport since 1959 and never have I seen the level of collaboration and cooperation between the city and school administrations as now exists. This reflects the recognition of city leaders and school officials that responsibility for the schools must be shared. The age-old practice of oppositional politics is obsolete. There are defined roles that must be observed, but once those roles are identified and respected, only good things can happen.

I mention these things because it was during the last three years that progress toward the goals of shared services came to fruition. Those three years, the school administration was led by Superintendent Jermain. Yes, the seeds were sown in previous years, but it took a School Superintendent and a City Manager who were vested in this City and its success, who were respectful and skilled in collaboration, and a majority of city and school elected officials who envisioned what shared services and responsibilities could accomplish to nurture those seeds and allow them to grow.

I fully support Superintendent Jermain. I appreciate her efforts to increase the community partnerships that provide those extra-curricular activities and life skills for our children. She has embraced our goals to grow Career Education and improve the graduation rate; she and her staff are cooperating with and accepting the guidance of our City Finance Director and her staff for improving the school’s business office procedures. This cooperation was a long time coming, due to resistance on the school side. There have been at least seven changes in Business Managers since 2001, probably due to the myriad of problems encountered. I fully expect that sharing the responsibilities of this office will finally resolve the problems the school department has historically faced in this area.

Professionally and personally, I am at a loss to find a compelling reason to request the Superintendent’s resignation.

Jo Eva Gaines, Member
Newport School Committee

Tax Proposal

To the Editor:

For years the Middletown Town Council has paid lip service to the problems of property taxes. The current council has approved a damaging plan. Property tax assessments are frozen, including business property. Assessments would change only when property is sold. Real estate investors own almost fifty percent of the properties in Middletown. This fifty percent will pass to their children, their grandchildren, forever and the base assessment would never change. This would be true even as they collected higher and higher rents.

The fact this plan has made it past the council is an indication of how flawed the council has become.

This is my proposal. All property held for investment, including rental properties, will be assessed at the commercial rate, not the residential rate. These are businesses, run for the purpose of generating income. They should be taxed accordingly. The increased income to the town would stabilize if not reduce the property tax rates on residential property.

Lawrence Frank,
Middletown Council candidate

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