In a not-online Newport Daily News article from April 18, Derek Gomes reports on new programs allowing students from other towns to attend Portsmouth High School:
The move comes on the heels of the state Department of Education designating the high school as a regional program provider for the career and technical pathways of child development and television production.
While the school has offered courses in each subject for years, it had to tailor curricula and have state education officials observe the classes before the state education department approved Portsmouth’s application last month.
“These tuition-based programs will welcome students statewide to participate and earn industry-based credentials and job experiences in these areas,” according to a letter the School Department posted on its Web site. “Students from other districts may apply for enrollment … and be considered for admission on a competitive basis.”
Details from the district’s Web page don’t make it immediately clear whether students attend the district full time or, as with vocational classes at Rogers High School in Newport, just attend for the few relevant classes. The Portsmouth tuition of $15,830 could certainly be full time, but the economics of these programs are crazy, with students’ home districts paying the same tuition for a couple of courses as they would for a full course load.
What strikes me at the moment, though, is how narrow and convoluted this all is. There’s a reason Little Compton sends its high school students all the way through Tiverton to attend Portsmouth High School. People actually move to Portsmouth for the same reason, and some private school parents in the area simply treat Portsmouth as another private school and pay the tuition. Why should the district have to offer specialized programs in order for the Department of Education to incorporate the choice into the system?
As I’ve written before, taxpayers should see themselves as funding the education of children in our community, not the maintenance of a government-branded school system. If that were the attitude, then we’d direct our resources where they will be used to greatest effect.