Westport votes overwhelming support for new $97M school at special town meeting

Project still faces ballot vote hurdle on February 27

EastBayRI.com ·

A large Westport crowd voted "by clear two thirds majority," declared Town Moderator Steven Fors, to approve construction of a new $97 million grade 5-12 school at Tuesday night’s special town meeting. The state would pay around 40 percent of that.

Tuesday’s vote doesn’t finish the matter. Voters will be asked for approval once more, this time at the polls on February 27. The question must be approved then as well for the school to be built.

Discussion and vote took well less than an hour with nobody speaking against the project. Much of the evening was spent trying to get the crowd of 1,005 seated. Most sat in the auditorium — capacity 840 — and the overflow were placed in the cafeteria. It took an hour and a half to bring sound to those out in the cafeteria as high school technicians scrambled about with wires and speakers.

Members of the school building committee offered a brief presentation on the project, after which a couple of audience members spoke.

Then, from the stage, selectmen Brian Valcourt called for the question to be put to a vote. Voters, who had already been waiting a long time, approved that idea unanimously.

Then came a show of hands vote on the school itself.When Mr. Fors asked to see the ‘yes’ votes, a sea of hands shot up and a loud cheer erupted. A check with those in the cafeteria showed a similar lopsided margin there.

Much more — and photos — to follow.

Photos by Richard W Dionne Jr