The experience of the Newport school system has been a cautionary tale for years. The year after opening a beautiful new elementary school, enrollment surged. Families pulled their children out of private school and enrolled in public schools. It’s a nice problem to have if you have the flexibility to handle it.
Our plans to move the high school from Columbia Street to Curtis Corner are based on 5-year enrollment forecasts that our high school population will drop from its current 930 students to 776. The Curtis Corner plans are based on a maximum capacity of just 864 students. Even at that level, all teachers will be sharing classrooms. Any significant increase in enrollment will quickly reach capacity.
Think about this. With our CTE programs in new labs, new programs coming on-line, and fantastic teachers leading the way, I have no doubt we will quickly outgrow this small space. Unfortunately, as confirmed by the architect, there is no more room at CCMS to expand. The original building can’t handle a second story and there are ledge and “water features” around the building.
If we truly believe, as I do, that our programs need room to grow, then we have to keep the high school at Columbia Street. We should be investing there to upgrade CTE labs and do everything we can to foster a collaborative learning environment.
I believe South Kingstown’s future is bright. I think we have two choices. We can move to Curtis Corner and accept that we are destined to keep losing students, or we can truly innovate and use the space we have at Columbia Street and re-build it into a first-class high school. If you want to accept chronically low enrollment, then vote yes on May 4th. But if you think our best days are in front of us, then we need to change this plan. We need to go back to the Columbia Street plan. Vote No to #StopThisPlan