Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ

Built in 1957, the Rogers High School building has outlived its useful life. The infrastructure of the facility is failing and cannot be repaired or replaced in a cost-effective way. The high school was not designed to support the variety of special programs and services present in today’s schools or the delivery of a rigorous, innovative, 21st century education. The building’s classroom spaces are undersized, lack flexibility, and are otherwise not equipped to support the current or planned curriculum. The teaching and learning spaces in the Newport Area Career and Technical High School (NACTC) also are inadequate to support current and planned career pathway programmatic needs, making them non-compliant with applicable State Career and Technical Education (CTE) standards. Rogers was rated as being in “poor condition” by a 2017 report by the State of RI, including having “structural safety problems.” The report found Rogers had the “direst needs” of any high school in RI. Studies have shown it is more cost effective to replace than repair the current high school. In 2018, students walked out of Rogers in protest of its poor condition. Among the problems with the current facilities: Science classrooms are not appropriately sized for safety nor do they provide the appropriate elements for experimentation. Departmental model with long connecting corridors, making passing time difficult and interdisciplinary instruction challenging. Disconnection between NACTC and High School creates challenges for both staff and students. Classrooms are significantly undersized and do not support best practices in teaching and learning. Career and Technical Education programs are located in inadequate spaces, out of compliance with current standards. Most classrooms have only one electrical outlet, which greatly limits the use of instructional technology. The facility is not energy efficient or compliant with security best practices. Faulty heating systems create portions of the school that are too hot or too cold. The track cannot be used for competitive athletics due to poor condition. Second level spaces including the weight room spaces in the gym and the dressing areas in auditorium are inaccessible. Click HERE to learn more.
School facilities affect teacher recruitment, retention, commitment, and effort. With respect to students, school facilities affect health, behavior, engagement, learning, and growth in achievement. Studies have shown the condition of school facilities impacts student performance and attendance.

Schools in better condition have better student behavior and more effective teaching.

Clean, quiet, safe, comfortable, and healthy learning environments are an important component of successful teaching and learning.
Rogers High School, built in 1957, has outlived its useful life. It was identified as the "most in need of replacement" in the entire state of Rhode Island. This project will provide our kids a safe, warm, dry, and state-of-the-art facility with modern and environmentally-friendly systems to ensure a healthier indoor learning environment for all students and staff.

Newport has been approved for 52.5% reimbursement from the state, thanks in part to Newport voters support of the statewide school bond in 2018 (35% base rate and 17.5% for additional incentives).

Due to Covid-19, we are in an era of historically low interest rates, and the cost of borrowing is expected to increase in the future.

The statewide bond incentives begin to expire if shovel is not in the ground by December 2022.

RIDE has determined Rogers/NACTC building are beyond their useful lives and they will not reimburse for any improvements as a new facility is more cost-effective.

The 17.5% reimbursement from additional incentives being offered now is unlikely to be available in the future.

Read the most recent Downes Construction/Studio JAED summary of the current need and incentives for building now here.
Project costs cited include: project management, design/engineering, site work, construction, demolition, parking, road work, fields, furniture, equipment, and landscaping.

The project is currently estimated at $98.8 million for Rogers and $7.4 million for Pell.

Newport's share is $50, 509,110 and the state reimbursement is $55, 825,857

The Newport City Council and School Committee worked together to design a financing plan. Under this plan, there is no taxpayer impact until 2023. At that time, the average Newport homeowner (of a home valued at $400k) would pay just $0.43 per day towards the cost of the bond.

Click HERE for a spreadsheet comparing the cost with similar projects in Massachusetts.
School construction projects require years of planning, studies, reports, and public input. Some highlights of the process are listed below, along with a link to key documents.

In 2017, the RI Department of Education (RIDE) released a report assessing the school buildings across the state - Rogers was identified as "most in need of replacement".

The Newport School Committee formed an Ad Hoc committee in April 2018 to look at the needs for the next five or more years for Newport Schools, evaluate options, develop criteria, and explore alternatives.

On November 6, 2018, 84.1% of Newporters voted in support of the statewide school bond.

Newport continued to hold public meetings and hired Studio JAED and Downes Construction to help with the the lengthy RIDE process to gain access to the statewide bond funds.

Numerous studies and reports, demographic studies, facility assessments, and space efficiency assessments - were completed to submit to RIDE as part of the formal Stage I and Stage II applications.

Numerous public visioning sessions, stakeholder meetings with teachers, students, and community leaders were held, including many public workshops with the Newport School Committee and the Newport City Council. Digital copies of the studies, reports, and public meetings can be found HERE.
The discussion about regionalization did not start, and will not end, with this school bond. The topic has been discussed for decades with little positive progress. We cannot force regionalization on neighboring communities. Despite best efforts on a recent well-publicized attempt to create a plan to regionalize our island high schools, Middletown and Portsmouth officials have declined to even discuss this option.

In fact, Portsmouth recently submitted their own $65 million Stage 2 RIDE application to renovate all four of their school buildings, including the high school. The Portsmouth town council and school committee both voted unanimously to support their application.
84.1% of Newport voters supported the 2018 $250 million statewide school construction bond. The School Building Committee believes we should access our fair share of these tax-payer approved funds, rather than letting the entire bond finance school construction in other communities.

The new Rogers High School and classroom addition at Pell are eligible for reimbursement for the following categories: Improving Health and Safety Deficiencies at Rogers

- Educational Enhancements at Rogers - Replacement of a school building (Rogers) with Facilities Condition Index Above 65% - Decrease Utilization from 120% to (85% - 105%) at Pell - Building Consolidation by combining NACTC and Rogers academic buildings
Cost estimates show that renovations could be as high as $167 million depending upon findings. We won’t know a number until renovation begins. Renovations often provide surprises once walls and ceilings come down. Furthermore, the RI Department of Education has determined that the Rogers buildings are beyond their useful life and will not reimburse Newport for renovations. Renovation is not fiscally responsible. And it would displace our kids while construction goes on.
Newport's children live throughout the city and so it makes sense to have our schools throughout the city. The new building needs around 40 acres to accommodate playing fields, parking, etc. During the planning process, multiple sites were considered: Naval Hospital area: only 12 acres and also has environmental cleanup issues. X Newport Pell Bridge realignment area: Newport does not own this land, and the State of RI is under no obligation to sell or donate it to the city. X Former Newport Grand site: Newport does not own this land and would be a sizable capital investment to address the environmental clean-up issues (the land is the former town dump) that would add to the cost.above and beyond the building of the school. X The old Naval Hospital acreage is too small, .

Read about all the site options considered here. The city owns the current Rogers campus, and adds no additional capital costs. YES In order to advance through the lengthy planning process required to access the 52.5% state reimbursement, the city must own the land. To use an alternative site, the city would have had to negotiate and purchase the property prior to beginning the RIDE process. Alternative site exploration would delay the project even more and add to the overall project cost by adding property purchasing to the project cost and making the project miss out on 17.5% state reimbursement.
The State’s expanded School Construction Program makes reimbursement funding available only to cities and towns that allocate at least 3 percent of school operating budgets annually to building maintenance. If Newport or any other community invests less than 3 percent, State funding would be revoked. In addition, the State now requires school districts to develop 5-year and 10-year facilities maintenance plans for every school building.