Portsmouth High School is now a regional career-tech center

Accreditation opens door for students outside district


PORTSMOUTH — For years, various Portsmouth High School students have traveled to the Newport Area Career & Technical Center at Rogers High School to learn skills such as automotive technology, cosmetology or carpentry.

Starting next fall, it will be PHS’ turn to host students from outside the district to learn career and technical (CTE) skills.

The high school’s CTE programs in television production and child development were recently accredited by the R.I. Department of Education (RIDE), paving the way for students in other districts that don’t offer those courses to enroll here.

Thomas Kenworthy, assistant superintendent, said the accreditation review took place in the fall.

“We passed with flying colors,” Mr. Kenworthy said. “The first offerings will start in the fall.”

Students from other districts may apply for enrollment and be considered for admission on a competitive basis. Tuition for each program is $15,830, as approved by The School Committee. 

Under the state’s CTE rules, the tuition would be paid by the school district that is sending the student, assuming it doesn’t already offer the same program being offered by Portsmouth. Students from districts within State Transportation Region 5 (all of Aquidneck Island, Prudence Island, Tiverton and Little Compton) would also have transportation provided by their district.

“Just like we have a few students who go off to the Newport Career Tech Center for different things like construction, automotive — that kind of thing,” Mr. Kenworthy said. 

Collecting outside tuitions hardly the only reason Portsmouth is offering the CTE programs to students outside the district, he said.

“In our mind, we just have a lot to offer in the district both academically and extracurricular-wise,” Mr. Kenworthy said. “I think it’s a great opportunity for students who are close by. Kids don’t want to be on buses for too long.”

College still in play

Students who enroll in CTE courses earn industry-based credentials and job experiences in those areas. However, Mr. Kenworthy said the “career and tech” designation often leads some people to assume those students are choosing not to attend college, and that’s not necessarily so.

“Most of these kids are still going to college,” he said, adding that the CTE programs simply give them a leg up in their respective field of interest.

“Both offer some college credit — (the child development courses) through CCRI and the TV production through New England Tech,” he said.

Portsmouth High School will continue to develop its CTE programs and seek state accreditation for more disciplines in the future, he said.

“We’re also building a pre-engineering program, so that’s going to be the next one that we see coming up. It will take us a few years to build it up,” Mr. Kenworthy said.

For more information regarding the Portsmouth school district’s CTE program, click here.


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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.