2018-01-25 / Opinion


Refreshing Cooperation

There seems to be a new spirit of cooperation between the town and schools in Middletown to consolidate repairs, effect change and save money. Together. At the Jan. 16 Middletown Town Council meeting, town and school officials announced they have been and will be meeting on a weekly basis to consolidate projects, working together to save money on both sides.

The very announcement is a balm to school-town relations. In November 2015, Middletown teachers sued the town, claiming the Town Council acted beyond its scope in rejecting a contract extension negotiation with the School Committee.

Then there was an all-time low and a feeling of mutual distrust after the schools purchased about $1 million in technology that the Council said they had not actually authorized, prompting dueling lawyers to argue each case at uneasy, difficult public forums.

The schools were cleared of breaking any laws or protocols, but residual rancor remained.

At the public, pre-budget consultation to discuss annual reports and appropriation requests, part of the Jan. 16 meeting, both Town Administrator Shawn Brown and School Superintendent Rosemarie Kraeger spoke in tandem of this new team spirit.

There were thoughtful presentations about the elimination of the car tax as revenue and deep speculation as to how Gov. Gina Raimondo's statewide proposal to spend $500 million to repair schools throughout R.I. would positively or adversely affect prospects and taxes in Middletown, a great ongoing unknown. “We do see opportunities of working together,” said Kraeger. "There is always a list that is a work in progress. The list is never done."

What a difference three years can make.

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