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Committee tables school plan
Beacon photos by Jennifer Rodrigues
HERO OF WARWICK VETS HIGH: School Committee member Karen Bachus became a hero to supporters of Warwick Vets when she proposed a motion to bring in outside consultants to examine the entire school system in Warwick, tabling any votes for school consolidation for the time being.

Tuesday night in a surprise decision, the School Committee unanimously voted to table a vote on the recommendation to re-purpose Warwick Veterans Memorial High School as a junior high and close Aldrich and Gorton Junior Highs in favor of bringing in an outside consulting firm to look at the district in its entirety and recommend a viable plan for the future of the district.

More than 600 people filled the Robert J. Shapiro Cultural Arts Center at Toll Gate High School to learn the fate of Vets High School. The meeting was scheduled to start with the vote on the Long Term Facility Planning Committee’s recommendation for consolidation, but School Committee Chairwoman Beth Furtado announced fellow committee member Karen Bachus would present a motion instead.

Bachus said she requested a motion following the last committee hearing that the vote be tabled and a “long-term facilities planning consolidation of schools company” be hired to look at the district, and present a plan for five, 10, 15 and 20 years out.

“What should we do? How should we consolidate? Should we look to build a new building? What are the needs of our district from a bigger, wider perspective and what should we be looking to do down the line,” said Bachus.

She also summarized why she felt an outside consultant was necessary for this plan.

“We only get one chance at this folks. Life is not a dress rehearsal. And if we mess this up, we can mess up countless futures for countless youth and children in this city and in this school system,” said Bachus. “We could also destroy this school system because there is a great possibility that a lot of people would leave Warwick to move to another area, that people would chose private schools, that we would get overrun for requests for youths to go to charter schools, which could really bankrupt the system.”

Bachus also mentioned she had been told by Ward 3 Councilwoman Camille Villa-Wilkinson that a member of the Long Term Facilities Planning Committee had revealed to Vella-Wilkinson, Council President Donna Travis and Ward 5 Councilman Ed Ladouceur that the report had actually been written in January and the committee had just been flushing out the plan to make sure it would work. While she never said directly that this revelation played into her decision to bring in outside consultants, Bachus did point out that if that is true, the report was written before she even requested it in May.

Furtado amended Bachus’ motion to include the request that the School Department go to bid with specific recommendations about issues that had come up during the proceedings and that whichever company is chosen comes back with a viable plan for secondary school consolidation. Bachus then amended Furtado’s amendment, requesting the consultant to examine the district in its entirety (secondary and elementary).

“I don’t want just a consolidation committee. I want a committee that is going to look at the future of teaching and learning of education in this city,” said Bachus. “I want the whole enchilada, the whole package.”

Divided committee

While most appeared ecstatic with the decision, Furtado was not.

“I am furious,” said Furtado yesterday. “I was realistic and conscious of the fact that this was not going to go through, so the worst of two evils was to give them what they wanted.”

Furtado explained that had a vote on the re-purposing occurred, it would have failed 3-2, with she and committee member Terri Medeiros in favor of consolidation.

Now it is up to Furtado to find a way to pay for an outside consultant to examine the district, something she estimates will cost at least six figures.

“Where am I going to have to get that money? From the classroom, from the kids. I hope they are happy,” said Furtado. “They are choosing location over education … what programs do they want me to cut to cover the money?”

Furtado explained that she believed the Long Term Committee’s recommendation to be true and accurate, and was ready to move forward with the plan; but her fellow committee members did not agree, so she decided to show a united front and vote in favor of the motion.

“My belief is that they [outside consultants] will come to the same conclusion that this volunteer committee did, that consolidation is possible and necessary,” said Furtado.

As for a timeline, Furtado said the School Committee has requested that the School Department put out the bid request immediately and she believes interested companies have 30 days to apply. It is her hope that the company be selected by mid-February, they begin their work immediately and provide their findings by the spring or summer. She hopes to have the final plan approved by fall 2014.

Committee member Jennifer Ahearn ended up being the member to second Bachus’ motion and would have been the third vote against consolidation had it been taken. She explained she believed the plan needed to include more about the delivery of instruction and not just buildings.

“I did feel as though we need an outside opinion as far as implementation of education,” said Ahearn, adding that she hopes the consultant brings a number of different options the committee could look at in terms of education. “I didn’t feel the delivery of education was addressed enough [in this plan]. It’s all about instruction.”

Ahearn researched what other school districts throughout the country have done and said that played into her desire to see more details.

“I really want to target all of our options,” said Ahearn.

However, she also knows the numbers and understands consolidation needs to happen down the road.

“I do believe we need to look at letting go of some of our buildings,” she said. “We have the space to move the kids around. This has to happen.”

Ahearn also said she hopes the committee is able to move forward quickly and that they will be able to come together with the unions to make progress in the district.

Committee member Eugene Nadeau was vocal about his issue with the speed in which the Vets consolidation plan was to occur. He was equally vocal in expressing his support of Bachus’ motion to bring in professionals.

“I am pleased that her motion passed. I think it’s the best thing,” said Nadeau, saying he thought the proposed plan would be “disruptive” to the district.

It is his hope that the middle school model and all-day K will be implemented before any consolidation occurs, something he believes is the best thing for the district and a necessary move with the Common Core standards coming down next year.

During public comment at the meeting, it was suggested that the company chosen to come in and look at the district be from out of state, something Nadeau also feels would be best. He said it would be best to find a company that has worked with a district of similar size and demographics before to see if they can suggest something new.

What happens to committee?

Although the School Committee members may differ in their opinions about the recommendation, the one thing they agree on is their appreciation for the 15 members of the Long Range Planning Committee, most of who had been working on this process for two years since the committee was formed by a former superintendent.

“They are highly respected. They have the integrity we deserve,” said Nadeau, adding that the School Committee will likely look at both reports when making their final decision in the future.

Although she essentially called for the end of the Long Term Committee, Bachus also only had kind words to say.

“I thank you for your service. You have done well. We thank you. The committee should now be closed,” said Bachus.

Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian also thanked the committee for their service in a statement.

“I think we owe a great deal of thanks to the members of that committee – all volunteers – who looked at the situation, toured the buildings, and made suggestions. Suggesting change is never easy and I want to make sure that the members of the committee are not vilified. In particular, Nancy Plumb and Lynn Dambruch added this duty to their already difficult schedule as principals in two of our elementary schools,” said Avedisian.

Superintendent Dr. Richard D’Agostino also praised his fellow committee members.

“They’ve gone beyond what is expected of volunteers,” said D’Agostino. “We’re united in that. We stand behind the work we’ve done and the data we’ve collected.”

D’Agostino also said he and the other committee members welcome outside consultants.

“It’s fine,” said D’Agostino about the motion. “We welcome an outside company to come in and examine the data. It’s not that their data was in error.”

He added that the consultants may even come to the same conclusion and validate the work done by the committee.

Committee members Ed Racca and Dave Testa were also fine with the new plan.

“I’m fine with consultants, but I wish they had voted on the recommendation. It’s process for me,” said Testa. “Reject it, that’s fine.”

“We put the best plan together we could in the time we had,” said Racca.

They also spoke to the idea of simply moving the sixth grade up to the junior high without closing schools; Testa says that will not solve the problem of declining student population.

“Your population still declines; you’ve just rearranged the deck chairs,” said Testa.

Cheers for Vets

Following some confusion regarding amendments to amendments, Furtado finally announced that the vote to re-purpose Vets would be tabled and the crowd erupted into applause, chants of “Vets” and cheers for Bachus. The majority of the crowd filed out of the auditorium to share congratulations with one another before heading home.

Joe Iadevaia, a parent who had spoken against the re-purposing during public hearings, was very happy with the results.

“Karen has been a leader. I’m sure she had a lot to say,” said Iadevaia. “I’m sure the committee did the right thing.”

He is happy that a professional will now be coming in to look at things and believes a better plan will come of it.

“I certainly don’t want to prejudge anything. We’ll have to see how it goes,” said Iadevaia when asked how he would react if the professionals come back with the same recommendation to close schools. “The most important thing is the children. I’ll be open-minded and listen.”

Those breathing the largest sigh of relief were current students at Vets.

“It’s like a weight has been lifted off our shoulders,” said Frankie Medeiros, a junior. “I’m so excited. We get to be captains. We can be with our family and not worry.”

“We got up and looked at each other and started crying,” said Kaitlyn Rhodes, who was happy to spend her senior year at Vets with her teammates from soccer, laughing that all she has to worry about now is a championship with the Hurricanes.

“It was nail-biting when we first sat in there,” said Ashley Spellman, a junior. “Next year is going to be our senior year. I can’t imagine doing our senior projects at another school with more kids.”

Even though they said they would be more open-minded about the plan from the professionals outside of the system, if the recommendation ends up being to close Vets, they will be back. “I think we’d still be fighting because it’s our school,” said Spellman.

President of the Warwick Teachers Union Jim Ginolfi had criticized the recommendation for not including three plans as requested in the School Committee’s original motion and believed the plan was flawed. He says bringing in professionals is the right choice.

“I think it’s great news. They’re going to do it the right way, to look at it all, K through 12,” said Ginolfi. “My hope would be, just like the original motion by the School Committee, that they come in with a motion of at least three viable plans.”

When asked what he would think if the professionals suggest closing schools, Ginolfi said it would depend on the details but it is too early to tell that.

Avedisian, who has refrained from giving input on the matter of school consolidation, did address the decision made by the committee in an email to the Beacon yesterday.

“I understand that some people have questioned the numbers from the very beginning. So I think that Chairwoman Furtado made the right call to have independent sets of eyes look at the numbers and the work of the Long Range Planning Committee,” he said.

When asked if the city would provide more funding to schools, Avedisian said it is too early to tell.

“It is too early to think about what kind of budget the city would support. I think it will again depend on what programming the School Committee wants to focus on. I know that there is strong sentiment for all-day kindergarten and the transformation from junior high school to middle school,” he said.

While people at the meeting were pleased with the results, others vented their frustration with the plan on the Beacon’s Facebook post announcing the results.

“So more waiting, more money NOT going to the school, more activities and programs will get cut and the vicious cycle continues. What an embarrassment,” wrote Tami Welchman Ward.

“I wonder what programs will be cut next year as the inevitable gets kicked down the road? It if cuts into athletics, I am sure we will hear a much greater cry than when it was a librarian and ALAP,” said Kathy O’Grady Ogni.

“What a waste of taxpayers money! The student population has been declining for years and so should the tangible buildings that educate these kids! They are just buildings and it is not that building that makes the education or the memories. It is the students, the educators, the administration, the coaches and the events! The big picture should be in the forefront of this decision and the big picture is bringing our education system up to date with technology and topnotch processes. What a shame,” wrote Michele Cahill.

The rumor mill

Prior to Tuesday’s meeting, there had been a number of rumors circulating throughout the city about backhanded deals regarding the vote for school consolidation. Avedisian chose to address some of those rumors. In regards to Vets supporters disrupting last week’s Christmas tree lighting, protests at City Hall or threats to confront the mayor on his personal time, Avedisian said all of those things did not happen. He said Vets supporters were at the tree lighting, but said they were not disruptive.

“They were actually intrigued to learn that the mayor does not control the School Committee and School Department. They seemed surprised to learn I do not hire or fire school department personnel, etc,” said Avedisian.

There was another rumor that Avedisian had promised Furtado’s son a job as a firefighter in the city should the recommendation pass.

“First of all, the new independent testing and screening that we follow does not allow anyone to promise a job. But, for the record, I did check with Chiefs Armstrong and Cooley and there were no candidates with the surname of Furtado to take the test,” said Avedisian.

Finally, the mayor said rumors that the consolidation was only being done to “get rid of” Principal Gerry Habershaw “could not be further from the truth.” According to the mayor, he had spoken with Furtado, urging her to find an administrative position for Habershaw had the recommendation passed.

During public comment following Tuesday’s meeting, Vella-Wilkinson had plenty to say about the rumors spread throughout this process.

“I was ashamed to think that individuals couldn’t stick to the truth, stick to the facts and instead they would smear the reputations of individuals who have taken time away from their families to serve the city of Warwick,” said Vella-Wilkinson. “And I will apologize for any of my constituents who did that to you or to the committee. I think it was Warwick’s worst moment. I’m very sorry for that.”


Comments
69 comments on this item

If they wanted outside consolidation consultents they should have hired them 10 years ago. In the very least they should have hired them to work in parallel with the long term planning committee. The taxpayers and students of Warwick have been betrayed by the spineless school board. Programs will need to be cut to pay for the study and the savings that won't be realized through consolidation. Elected board members are supposed to lead the community. Not follow. Its okay that the students and parents are emotional, short-sighted and selfish. Not the board. Shameless cowards.

If it is going to save money problem solved close the school. Why is everything so difficult? And when did Sam Kinison become a school board member?

Warwickguy, I love the Sam Kinison reference. Spot on

They have made their decision. The School Committee has publicly stated that educational programs may need to be cut. In the spring of 2014 when the budget is proposed & possibly the City Council doesn't provide the full funding request of the School Dept./Committee & cuts may need to be incurred(maybe some school sports teams will be either combined or eliminated as has been done in Cranston/Johnston/North Providence), don't complain to the Mayor/City Council. There are consequences to keeping/maintaining additional facilities/buildings vs. programs. It would be nice to have both but it's just not affordable. As far as all day kindergarten anytime soon, don't hold your breathe.

One side issue: many parents currently with students in lower grades see the writing on the wall; if they can afford it, they will be looking into/sending their children to private schools.

Watching the city's educational "leadership" grapple with a plummeting enrollment is much like watching a monkey attempt to make love to a football. He tries and tries, but never gets anywhere. The entire ordeal goes from humorous to sad, and the solution, after much wrangling is: The monkey brings in an outside consultant. Absolutely priceless. As I see it, there are three winners in all this: LaSalle, Bay View, and Bishop Hendricken.

Backus a hero.......what a joke.....she did what she did only to save UNION jobs.....she doesn't care about the children.....she is an disgrace.

Bacus is trying to make up for screwing over the ALAP students.

There is no educational basis to consolidate Warwick’s high schools. They each actually have slightly more students than studies show is ideal. It is not just class size but also grade and school size that should be considered when determining whether to consolidate high schools.

A school district should not determine how many students should be in an individual high school only by the building's capacity. The three highs schools all currently have between 900 and 990 students. If the consolidation was approved, it appears that one of the remaining schools would have been assigned an additional 600 students and the other would have been assigned an additional 300. In addition, the proposed new super junior high school would have had 500 students in each grade.

Please review the articles and studies listed below that demonstrate that smaller schools, at least those below one thousand students with individual grades no bigger than about 250 students, are the best academic, social, and disciplinary environments for high school students. Our current high schools are finally down to these near acceptable levels. Consolidating the high schools would have returned them to well over that acceptable level. In addition, there is no basis for putting 500 students in one grade in a school, which was the proposal for the super junior high school. The WPS argument of using economy of scale (to keep high schools large to reduce costs per student) was accepted during the middle of the 20th century but has been discredited since the 1990s. There was no discussion about the best educational environment in the Long Term Facility Planning Committee Report; it only discussed cost savings. That alone made the report an unacceptable basis to support a vote to close a high school.

These are some of the articles and studies stressing the importance of smaller schools:

New York, small school perform better: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/education/size-matters-nyc-high-schools-smaller-gain-big-article-1.1494953;

NYU New York: http://wagner.nyu.edu/files/faculty/publications/highschoolsize-effectsonbudget...pdf

MIT Study of NY Schools: http://economics.mit.edu/files/9158

Private schools keep schools smaller to improve education: http://privateschool.about.com/od/choosingaschool/qt/sizematters.htm

University of Texas Study:

http://www.edb.utexas.edu/hsns/HSNSbrief1.pdf

U.S Department of Education

http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ovae/pi/hsinit/papers/turn.pdf

If the school department has 3 Millon dollars to implement all day kindergarten, then I'm sure there is enough money to hire an expert consulting firm to plan school consolidation for the whole city. But then again, this Is Warwick...

If one were to research the vast majority of the decisions made by WPS administrators over the last decade or two, one would quickly see that the district has lacked leadership and vision. Almost everything WPS sets out to do is rushed and botched as a result of poor leadership. The WPS is a recycling program for administrators. When WPS need ed a new superintendent, did the school committee conduct a national search for the best candidate? No, we just slipped in another member of the "old boys' club." Warwick is NEVER going to move forward unless it hires intelligent leaders who are on the cutting edge of education, rather than those who talk the jargon with little evidence or foresight to improve the WPS. For once Warwick will do the right thing to help out schools actually become 21st learning environments. Rushing into closing a school is not the smart decision & I commend Karen Bachus, Jennifer Ahern, & Eugene Nadeau for being some of the first to make a wise decision to hire a non-RI consulting firm to complete the work as independent professionals evaluating what is BEST for the WPS!

If I were a member of the Long Term Planning Committee I'd be livid. Why did you waste their time, expertise, and commitment? RI, and certainly Warwick, retains the notion that an "expert" is defined as anyone from outside RI. I can't wait until the "expert consulting firm" comes back with the same recommendation as the LTPC, after untold thousands of taxpayer dollars. The superintendent is paid to make these decisions, and is an absolute coward in all this. Ditto the school committee, which seeks a consulting firm for political cover ("Hey, it wasn't us..."). And all the while, Warwick's mayor remains bewilderingly noncommittal. A resounding display of why RI remains a laughing stock, and Warwick parents actively seek options beyond it's system of pathologically-run government schools.

Oh sure, hire an outside consulting firm to make the decision for you. What were you people elected to do, Pass the Buck!! Unbelievable!!!

The 600 people who cheered this decision should pick up the financial tab for the rest of the Warwick taxpayers who have to foot the bill.

Thank God I'm moving out of Warwick. To pay via taxes for this stupidity. Why have a school commitee if they can't make the big decisions on their own? They should be disbanded if hiring outside consultants is going to be the future in Warwick. That is called passing the buck. They don't want to look like the bad guys with a difficult but necessary decision. I have kids in the Warwick school system and they would have been affected one way or another. However, I understand the importance to be more efficient with our tax money. It is an expensive luxury to keep thing status quo. There is no reason to believe there will be a sudden influx of babies born in the city unless we have another Blizzard 78 :) They can give me the 100,000 and I'll tell them what they already know. Since the schools are aging and the classrooms are not filled then a logical choice would be consolidation. If you want to keep more schools strategically around the city then find different buildings to move into that are smaller and more modern. Or, temporary move the students, tear down the old schools and rebuild one at a time a smaller, more efficient building. Warwick's population will never grow again to what it once was unless it turns into Central Falls with triple decker homes with low rent.

unbelievable! I wonder how many of those who protested are actual tax payers! Had I known that the school committee was going to cave to a small hysterical minority of the Cities tax payers or more than likely non tax paying residents, I would have organized a rebuttal protest in favor or inevitable change. This should be put on the ballot, do we spend more money on something we already know to be true or do we move forward. At least then all of the City's residents would be heard not just a small few! Maybe it is time for the City to manage the school department after all most of our tax dollars go to the school and yet the Mayor and his administration have no say on how those dollars are spent. I strongly urge the Mayor not to give another dime to the school department until they learn how to manage what they already have! Between this and the proposed sewer projects nobody is going to be able to afford to OWN a home in Warwick unless they turn into a 3 family tenement as the previous poster indicated!

That dirt bag Eugene Nadeau has the nerve to try and stop us from getting sewers with his stories of fish holding their noses and he just voted to allow us taxpayers to spend millions on a school not needed. What an IDIOT his own kids cant stand him I wonder why! Time to disband that moronic School Committee.

Are we now going to have to pay the millions to bring Aldrich and Gorton up to fire code since we have continued to kick this can down the road? It was my understanding they only had a variance from the fire Marshall until Fall 2014. I hope the city councilors who were so vocal about stopping this consolidation are just as vocal about the city paying to maintain these buildings owned by the city and not up to code...I hope that they are also just as vocal about how it is the city side of the budget and NOT the school side that has ballooned over the past few years. That the city side is the one that takes the lions share and is responsible for ALL the recent tax hikes.

What a waste this all is...this problem wasn't a surprise and paying someone from outside the money that could have been used to save the librarian or ALAP won't make the problem disappear.

Certainly do not see a hero in Ms. Bachus, if she always had doubts about the LTFPC why let precious time waste and be a hero and start this process earlier...

Hey Bachus...Eat me luck charms!

The fact that the LTFPC had the Mayor's Chief of Staff, who is the former City Planning Director, with expert credentials on these issues, two school principals, the secondary director of education, the superintendent, and others all who are impeccably qualified to make these decisions, and the vote was unanimous to consolidate, is significant.

Where was Mayor Avedisian to promote the plan when his Chief of Staff recommended it? Where was the City Council President? Oh that’s right she along with two other councilors was leading the grand standing band wagon by playing to the crowd in opposition.

The school committee in January did not accept the initial recommendation to close Gorton because they felt a long-term look at the district was not considered by that planning committee. That’s why they asked the LTFPC to start again.

Why didn’t those School Committee members who have now voiced criticism of the committee, asked for updates on progress during the process to make sure the scope of what they requested was being met? I will tell you why, because they were looking for any excuse not to close schools as a result of the pressure put on by the vocal parents.

And when they couldn't come up with a valid reason not to accept the plan, they manufactured one.

School Committee woman Backus relaying on a third party hearsay claim from information received from Councilwoman Vella-Wilkingson who received it from another person that the LTFPC decision was fixed is outrageous. Why not postpone the vote for a week, call in members of the committee and determine if that was in fact true? This was nothing more than a made up excuse to stop consolidation because she and the other two school committee members didn’t have the courage to accept the recommendation.

Two years from now will the parents whose kids have left the system attend any consolidation meeting? I doubt it. The short term comfort of the minority was place over the overall long-term well being of the entire school population, including the younger children who will soon advance into these half-filled, schools that are falling apart.

Bob Savage, it is apparent you have done some research regarding school sizing but have not equally show any understanding of the current budget trends in Warwick. Where is the school department going to get all the money to fix these building and keep all of them open?

Katogni nails the real issue regarding why this decision to delay school closing is wrong.

The fact is Warwick schools will not see any substantial increase in funding. Bob, please explain how you think Warwick School can balance its budget while keeping all these schools open and implement all day K and other planned programs while maintaining all existing student programs.

Here are two links you should take a look at. The first is my op-ed piece in the Providence Journal regarding why consolidation needed to occur now. The second is my analysis of the City and school budget over the last decade. Copy and paste each link into your browser.

http://www.providencejournal.com/opinion/commentary/20131210-robert-cushman-consolidate-warwick-to-fix-its-schools.ece

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B6P1sIPd4PTdTkI5WF9NM1pjVXM/edit?usp=sharing

Bob Cushman- thank you for the editorial you wrote and your comments you have certainly informed me more about the reality of the situation.

If we are to have this outside consult and get different recommendations, it would be nice if they could be put to a referendum. I am sure there are more fabulous options out there like building the new state of the art schools that really will serve the needs of our students going forward they can recommend--but will the reality of our city's finances and politics support that.? I would like to see whatever the final plan is voted on and the city held responsible for funding it whatever it may be.

Any plan that is better than the one just tabled in my estimation is going to cost a lot of $$, and it has to be provided not just wished for.

Once again we have a shining example indicating that the people we elect, really, aren't very intelligent people. These gutless political elected "officials" escaped a public vote by engineering a fact less 3rd party hearsay statement that an un-named member of the LTFPC made a statement to Council woman Vella-Wilkinson (another proven habitual liar) indicating that the committee really put forth a decision without any basis or thought. This was a despicable statement, an insult to experts that presided on that commission, and a slap in the face to clear thinking taxpayers. The members of the school committee knew that either way they voted, there would be political consequences, so the "safe play" would be to divert the attention of the taxpayer, and engineer a way out of a public vote. I think Captain Kirk called that the Kobiashi- Maru doctrine.

So, now due to the lack of integrity, fiscal soundness, and plain guts, the residents are left with crumbling school structures, fire safety hazards, inefficient operations and sky rocketing costs that the city council will not have the guts to finance, and no plan to fix the problem. Thank god they are not pilots! Mind you, that the education of the Warwick Schools System is sub -par at best. In the latest RI Board of Education report card for the state high schools, Warwick ranked (out of 40 schools) 22, 28, and 32 on high school scores. And those scores were achieved with 14 -15 pupils per class. Think that there could be another problem here somewhere?

I was unable to identify 1 parent in that meeting that has ever attended a city council budget hearing. Maybe if we had that kind of attendance at council meetings we would not be stuck with gutless political "leaders" and skyrocketing taxes for sub par services. In the end game, you get the government that you deserve. With Warwick being comprised by a majority of low intellect voters, the chances for change are slim and none. Watch them all get re-elected. By the way, Ms. Bachus, nice fashion choice, very professional!

Katogni, if they really want to study the long term planning for schools, part of the study need to look at the city side of the budget and how on earth the Mayor and the City Council are going to support the educational system in Warwick when city spending continues to spiral out of control.

The consultant's will probably come back with all these great recommendation to build new schools and spend tens of millions of dollars, but never focus on if the tax base could support this spending with all the promises like the $314 million I wrote about in the next 14 years to reduce $4 million in liabilities from one pension plan. Meanwhile the three other pension plans and the retired employees "FREE" lifetime healthcare will also require hundreds of millions of dollars in the next couple decades.

The number don't add up and the $200 - $300,000 spend will be a waste of money.

When I was on the city council I put in request after request to bring in outside experts to study city spending. In 2005 experts came in and studied the schools and recommended consolidation between the school and city in several areas. Most of them never occured.

Guess what the Mayor refused to do the study. Why do you think he did that? Because he didn't want the truth to be expose that city spending will continue to require more and more new tax dollars.

Thisi is why he and the city council President didn't support consolidation. Now at budget time they have an excuse to level fund schools again or throw a small increase to them that will no where cover the cost of keeping these schools open.

The one position I can see from all this is that some people are finally waking up and realizing that it is the city budget that is responsible of all the recent tax increases and the Mayor and most of the City Council have turned their backs on the school system.

What a total joke. Nadeau needs heip to understand the agenda at basic School Committee meetings. As I have said many times before,"He who pays for the study gets the results that they are looking for". We,the voters of Warwick have ourselves to blame. If you look at the votes for School Committee,it invariably has thousands of undervotes,because people don't bother to look at the bottom of the ballot,where they are placed. Result,dunderpates like Nadeau have a say in the majority of our tax dollars. To the people who gave up many hours of family time to serve on the Committee to make changes,what a tremendous slap in their face.. This was clearly an example of mob rule.

P.S. Ditto on the Sam Kinnison comment !!

Mr. Cushman, this is at least round three of the school department focusing only cost without any analysis on what the impact of consolidation has on its students. As part of round one, due to a focus only on costs, the WPS ruined Sherman School by stuffing it with far too many students after transferring a portion of the students from John Greene; and then last year they almost ruined the educational environment for Gorton and Aldrich students by trying to cram them into one school.

This costs only motivation should not be happening in a city with such a good tax base. Other than attempted reduction in costs, there is no legitimate reason to destroy our near ideal size high schools. These types of destructive plans that focus only on cost usually take place in distressed urban schools districts because their tax base left it with no other choices.

However, the comments coming from conservative /Tea Party voters and politicians, and talk radio hosts and listeners, falsely make it appear that Warwick is in the same situation as a distressed urban city. In general, not just when they are discussing public schools students, these commentators demonstrate blatant lack of caring about those that actually take part in government provided services. I hoped that this mindless anti-government nonsense would not reach Warwick but it apparently has.

This mindless cost only focus on consolidation must stop before it results in Warwick resembling a poor urban city in which taxpayers view those that attend the City schools as "the others" that take their tax dollars while they feel they have no choice but to send their children to private or religious based schools. It appeared that both the mayor, in his written correspondence, and the Chairperson of the School Committee in addressing the audience, already viewed the Warwick Veterans students and their parents as "the others" by condescendingly reminding them to behave and by unnecessarily providing six policemen at the meetings on Monday and Tuesday night last week.

There is no reason that leaders of both the City and WPS would inflict such unnecessary wounds on the City it is supposed to serve. The City already has near ideal size high schools now. They need to find a way to properly fund the schools so that actions are driven mainly by trying to get the best educational outcomes, not simply slashing costs. Returning the high schools to their pervious overcrowded state will only turn potential homeowners that have school age children away from Warwick and that will have very negative impact on property values.

The captain, Florida highway patrol called they are missing one nutcase from their insane asylum. Have you seen him?

Always a higher intellect comment from the Low Intellect Voter Stevie D.

BobSavage - so I guess a financially stressed family of 4 using a 12 passenger gas guzzling mini-van is ok too?

Bob_Cushman. As I stated above, the size of a building does not dictate the numbers of students that should be in a high school. Using your type of analogy, a financially stressed family of four would not merge with another family just because their house has room for more people. There is other considerations besides building capaicity.

Corrected Comment:

Bob_Cushman: As I stated above, the size of a building does not dictate the number of students that should be in a high school. Using an analogy similar to yours, a financially stressed family of four should not be forced to merge with another family just because their house has room for more people. There are other more important considerations than mere building capacity.

They won't merge "just because the house has room for more people", but because they cannot afford to pay the cost of living in their current environment. The option of not eating to keep the van isn't a viable one.

That's the same situation with keeping kids in an under utilized building that don't meet fire safety codes and is falling apart and will require millions of dollars to be deverted from education programs to fixing up a building that will continue to be under utilized.

Are you a warwick resident? Do you understand the trends regarding local property tax resources allocated to the city and school budgets? If you did you would understand that Warwick is financially stressed. Did you look at my budget analysis? No comment on those facts? Do you foresee millions of new dollars flowing to schools? I don't.

When the city can nolonger afford to properly maintain its school building and 87% of new tax dollars have been allocated to the city budget since 2007 and the local tax allocation has gone from 64% to schools to currently 54 percent to schools you will realize that the school deparment has a choice, keep driving the 12 passenger mini van the needs thousands in repairs or downsize to the 5 passenger Honda accord that is a better fit for the family with many more features.

I pay Warwick taxes as both a Warwick homeowner and as the owner of a Warwick office building. If the City Council is not properly providing funding to the schools, that it a political problem that can be corrected by interested voters putting political pressure on the mayor and city counselors. it appears that the Mayor has made the political calculation that there is no significant political cost to refusing to provided needed resources to high school-age Warwick residents. For example, in 2006 Warwick voters passed a bond referendum authorizing Warwick to renovate athletic fields, especially those at Mickey Stevens. They are used mostly by high school-age students. Those fields are embarrassing and hurt the reputation of our City; not only are they located at the smelly dump but they are also in perpetual disrepair. The mayor refused to use the bonds to renovate those fields; he cited interest costs as the reason. Even though he ignored the wishes of the voters he was re-elected with massive majorities in the last two elections; I believe that he received more than 80% of the vote in 2012. It seems that his strategy is to keep residential property taxes relatively low, keep small business taxes through office building real estate taxes high because there is not enough small business owners in the city to make a political difference in an election, sneak in high fees on sewer and water because, until recently, voters did not complain about those as much as they would a property tax increase, level fund the schools, generate a surplus, and, as a result, claim to be good fiscal manager. This cynical strategy seems to work for him and the City Council. The City is declining, especially as a place for children to live, during the time that he has been mayor but he keeps on rolling to victory after victory. He seems to be mayor for life, if that what he wants. There needs to voter pressure for this not to continue. Those that organized to stop the unnecessary school consolidation should also focus on pushing the mayor and the city council to properly fund our schools with the real threat of running viable candidates against them if they ignore the needs of our school-age Warwick residents. If high school run best with between 600 to 900 students, we should not consolidate our high school that have now between 910-990 students because we do not believe our city leaders will provide proper funding for them.

To the Warwick Beacon: Please provide the ability to edit a post. I see often see errors after I enter a post but there does not appear to be a way to fix those errors.

airport expansion = school closings....that is all...

Bob, don't forget that same 2006 bond referendum also authorized all the fire safety repairs and other capital improvements that the schools now are responsible to pay for out of their annual budget. The mayor and the city council reneged on their promise to finance these expenses.

Maybe if they didn't do this schools could afford to consider other options, but in my opinion they cannot.

Your description of how the mayor and council has handled city finances is correct and that leads me to my point that even if I submit to your point on the school sizing, that is a luxury the school department cannot afford to keep.

So the choice comes down to delaying consolidation by the school committee and sacrificing current educational opportunities of all students both in secondary and elementary schools.

Your sound like I very reason person who cares about this city, as I do. But sadly as I have participated in the budget hearing as an elected member of the city council for two years and as a citizen testifying over the last decade, I have not seen the level of concern by the stakeholders in this city materialize to a point where they could effect change.

As you state this is a political problem and if people want to make sure we receive the level of city and school services for our tax dollars they need to get involved and overhaul the political establishment in this city that has lead us to this point.

I don't see that happening as demonstrated by the people who came out for this cause, only concerned with the short term effect of the consolidation proposal that directly effected them, and soon will disappear into obscurity not concerned with anyone else in the city.

I hope to see you at the budget hearing this spring as your above description of the state of the city is spot on and our elected leaders to hear it from someone beside the half dozen individuals who have all but been label gad flies and are ignored at city meetings.

Bob Savage,

You make a good point which can be expanded upon. Let's take your very accurate point about the Mickey Stevens fields. When the facilities that nurture children with sports and entertainment begin to be neglected, that is the first sign of urban decay. Look what happened in Providence this past summer with the closing of the Davie Lopes pool and other facilities. The same signs are beginning to appear in Warwick.

As other examples: We no longer have a paving repair program. We used to allocated $500,000 / year to keep our streets in fair condition, now that budget has been absorbed and put into legacy costs.

We no longer have a side street sanding program. Why? Last year we spent over $200,000 on salt and sand. The city yard was left with a massive pile that seemed to begin to deplete about 3 weeks ago. We just purchased another 600 tons of salt. Why no side street sanding program? Where did all of the materials go? If there was extra material why weren't any of the side streets sanded last winter?

Community policing programs have all but disappeared. Why?? The monies for these programs are being sucked up by the giant vacuum which is formally titled Police /Fire 1 pension. Have you looked at the numbers of that pension system? $314 million in liabilities. Where is the money going to come from? Not to mention the $290 million in unfunded healthcare, and the program has ZERO dollars in it. There is more money between the seats of you furniture than there is in the health care plan that all of the taxpayers are on the hook for.

A previous poster stated that Warwick has a good taxpayer base. The problem is that residents are leaving because the writing is on the wall. All of these FACTS indicate urban decay and the fiscal death spiral. Taxes will continue to rise, tax base will continue to shrink.

To your point about the mayor getting re-elected with 80% of the vote. Bear in mind that only 45% of the registered voters voted in the last election. He also has given away the store to the unions, so as the debt builds and the bubble grows, he will leave before the bubble bursts and the next guy will deal with the issue. Look at Providence, Cicillini administration, same thing. We continue to elect charlatans and the urban decay continues to erode the city. You make great points. Hope you consider putting your name on the ballot for council next year.

Mr. Cushman it's as if you expect us to forget that you were on both the School Committee and the City Council. Since you were voted out by your Ward all you have done is attack the mayor, city council and school department. All of these great ideas you have were ABSENT when you were in office. You talk about all of these issues now, yet when you actually had a chance to do something about it you never did. Did you seek re-election? No! Ever throw your hat in the mayoral ring? No! You just write these loud mouth "I told you so" op-ed's as if you have any credibility at all on any these issues. Anyone can write about what they were going to do....what have you done?

Convene a state wide or federal grand jury, get the office of inspector general in here from Washington to follow the mismanagement in this city for the last 10+ YEARS AND GET INDICTMENTS..."breech of fiduciary responsibility, "gross financial misfeasance and malfeasance', "wrongful conversion of federal monies" , "collusion" "misuse of executive session to shield financial impropriety', "willful misconduct and fraud" " "bad faith contract agreements" , "knowingly entering into contracts that were financially unsustainable and financially reckless", "conspiracy to defraud...and about 25 more...Now, find Kilmartin and see if you can wake him up.

Over the last few years the School Committee has removed a Superintendent (a move still surrounded by secrecy that cost the school dept $270,000 severance pay) , then they appointed Dr. D'agastino interim Superintendent (until they could find someone permanent). They then decided that they would name D'agastino "acting" Superintendent. Why not interview outside candidates? That is why people question the motives of this School Committee. Removing a Superintendent who had served in 5 different school districts before Warwick without giving cause for his termination is UNACCEPTABLE. Examples like that ooze of the "buddy system", where it's all about who you know.

We then were told of short and long term committees that would make a recommendation to the school department. The short term committee recommended the closure of Gorton. Then the School Committee decided to table that when public pressure got to be too much. So then we heard that this "Long-Term Committee" that was put together by Peter Horoshak (the Superintendent who they had "no confidence" in) was going to be the saving grace. Even though the 15-members were chosen by a man the School Committee said they had "no confidence" in a few months prior. D'Agastino marched on full steam ahead insisting that consolidation needed to happen. The Long Term committee made their recommendation and the School Dept immediately tried to push it through with little information being given to the public. Telling the public to find a website and download a file is NOT transparency. D'Agastino even had the guts to say that opposition to this plan was based solely on emotion and the "human element". Plenty of people from all sides of life opposed the plan to consolidate.

Beth Furtado also shows NO courage in this. She screamed from the rooftops that this plan needed to go forth or else all hell would break loose on the budget....she made the same claims when it came time to close Gorton. Mrs. Furtado voted to table the plan, all while speaking out against delaying consolidation. YOU ARE NOT a leader, and have shown yourself to be a politician more than a public servant. We cannot re-elect these people again and expect different results. If our enrollment is so low in Warwick than why do we need to keep a Director of Secondary education

? Why have a director of elementary education? What about setting a date to implement the middle school model instead of just talking about it? How about freezing raises for school administration until a 10-year plan is laid out. It's about time we hold these people accountable for the shape of our school district. D'Agastino, Mullen, Bushell, Ferucci, Furtado should all step down!!!

what is all this talk about alap?

wait a second bendover this is about the schools not the entire city. The city municipal, police, and fire are well run in my opinion. Especially compared to other communitieis in the state !

Scal1024 oh my goodness well said !!!!!! Mr. Cushman is such a hyprocrite !

Michael2012- ALAP was the gifted and talented program for 3rd-6th grade in Warwick. It was cut by the school committee this summer along with the full time librarian at Gorton.

Scal1024, the "secrecy" you reference regarding Horoschak's removal contains some hyperbole. All personnel issues have an element of privacy and this one was no different. You don't need to be a rocket scientist to see that the SC wasn't going to renew his contract and they wanted him removed. Rumors were always flying around about his supposed outside work, lack of time in the district. Ill also assume that there was much legal posturing going on and in the end, my understanding is that they paid him what was due from his contract. So you had an employer evidently unhappy with a contract employee's performance and want him gone, so they part ways. Presumably the employee's lawyer threatens to sue. Chances are the contractual language could've been interpreted either way so the employer has a choice - go to court or settle. If they went to court and won but spent more than what the remainder of the contract was worth they'd get criticized for that. If they lost and had to pay the contract plus what was spent in litigation, they'd get criticized for that. Personnel issues always contain a high degree of privacy and if you are ever on the receiving end of something like that you'll appreciate that privacy.

Regarding the LTFPC, you don't have all of your facts right. The original LTFPC appointed by Horoschak's contained 11 members, four of whom were not part of the current committee. D'gostino immediately increased the size of the committee to 19 members which was a good thing, in my view. It was then pared back to 15 members. The short term committee voted to close Gorton 7-3. The full LTFPC voted to close Gorton 10-8 so in both instances the committee was divided, more deeply when the full committee voted. "Full steam ahead" is more hyperbole. The on going population decline of our schools is not fiction, it's happened and will continue to happen. It's just a simple demographic trend that will continue and eventually will level off. You are completely wrong in alleging that the School Committee tried to push anything through with little info given to the public. All of the committees records were public records and easily accessible by anyone. Transparency means having all public records easily accessible. It's doesn't mean that you have to have 1000 copies available to anyone who walks through the door.. Yes, their presentation stunk but it was just a recitation of the recommendation that was approved and posted on the WPS website at least a week before the public hearings. With respect to eliminating the elementary and secondary Ed directors, what would you put in its place? And, you realize that Admin payroll is a very, very small percentage of the districts overall payroll and that a 1% raise for admin (which matches that of the teachers) doesn't approaches six figures. I agree the Chair Furtado should not have voted for Bachus's proposal if she didn't agree with it. You can't just go ahead and set a date for middle school without first having an idea of which building(s) you're going to put them in. And we're not in middle school just because of Admin-the teachers union has also had a hand in that too.

Exeter is having a RECALL VOTE today.....something to think about regarding this SC and some of its' members

yuk time to leave this stinkhole before thev pension mess comes due and the airport gets louder!

Ever notice all you idiots talk about is leaving, yet you never do. Why don't you run for office and change the things that you feel are broken. For years I've read comments about people saying its time to leave but they never do (R.Cote anyone?). Either put up, move out or shut up......

SteveD, I agree. I am 53 years old and have lived here all my life, except from 1987 to 1990. I think that this City is a nice place to live and I have no intention of moving out of it. Those that bash this City and push for only costs cuts no matter the consequences obviously do not care about the long-term interest of this City and even their own property values. We should be looking at what is best for our school-aged residents because that is in the long-term benefit of both this City and its taxpayers' property values. If residents and prospective residents believed that our schools were so good that it would be a waste of money to send their children to parochial high schools, which now cost about $15,0000 a year, that would be a dramatic incentive for middle and upper-middle class families to stay or move to Warwick. This would push up property values in Warwick. Some of Warwick's neighborhoods are just as nice as those in Barrington. However, many middle and upper middle class families choose Barrington because they perceive that it has a better school system and therefore they can save tens of thousands by avoiding sending their children to parochial or private school. Just sending two children to La Salle would cost a family about $30.000 a year. Let's set our sites high, we can compete with any Town or City in Rhode Island. If the best high school at least approach the 600-900 students range, which the studies that I cited demonstrate, then we should keep our high schools near that range.

P.S. Barrington High School has 1,038 students (according to its website) which is only slightly more students than our high schools currently do. East Greenwich currently has less than 800 students. We should try to compete with Barrington and East Greenwich-not Cranston, Providence, and Central Falls.

Mr.Savage, there is simply mo consensus on the ideal high school size because there are scores of other variables at play and to continually harp on "the best" number is overly simplistic. Yes, Barrington has 1000 kids in its high school but I'd submit to you that if they saw a future influx of an additional 300 high school students they would not rush to build a new high school, they'd simply expand the current one to accommodate that increase. And have a high school if 1300. NK High has 1400 kids, Coventry has 1600 kids, and Cranston West has 1500 and NK & Coventry outperform all our high schools and Cranston West performs as well as Tollgate, our best performing school (based onNECAP scores) I did not use Golocalprov's ranking because NECAP is the only common measure across all districts.

A Univ of Michigan study found "the issue of school size is much more important in schools with high concentrations of low-income and minority students. Thus, schools with many minority students, and those with many students from lower-socioeconomic status families (often the same schools), should be especially anxious to reduce the size of the units in which their students actually learn." http://ns.umich.edu/new/releases/1151-high-schools-with-600-900-students-are-ideal-size-for-learning

A Univ of Missouri study found that "The second caveat is that school size per se is not a direct causal factor affecting school quality. Rather, school size is indirectly related to academic outcomes through its relationship to a variety of other variables. As a result, the relationship between school size and various indicators of school size is likely to be very complex. Unfortunately, sophisticated studies addressing complex relationship are currently lacking in the literature. Academic decision makers, therefore, must guard against making simple decisions based upon studies relating only one, or a few, mediating variables to a limited number of outcome measures."

http://sdpl.coe.uga.edu/research/SchoolSizeSDPL.pdf: 2011 study 303 Georgia High schools

"Based upon the findings of this study, school size plays little importance in the measures of academic achievement in Georgia high schools."

http://nepc.colorado.edu/files/1882.pdf: 2004 Teacher’s College Record study "The accumulated research suggests that student achievement is lower in larger high schools, and the distribution of that achievement is inequitable. Moreover, there is evidence that size is a more important issue for students from disadvantaged social backgrounds, both directly in terms of learning and indirectly in terms of differentiating environments that seldom favor minority and lowincome students. Thus, it is often the case that the students who would benefit from smaller high schools the most—minority and low-income students—are actually educated in the largest schools."

2008 NYU study : "Student outcomes — including graduation and dropout rates — at small (under 500 students) and medium size (between 501 and 1500 students) high schools in New York City are better than the citywide average for all schools, according to a new report by the NYU Institute for Education and Social Policy (IESP). The study also found that there is no difference in these outcomes between small and medium size schools, suggesting that optimal high school size may be larger than previously thought."

The fact that we can both cut and paste studies supporting our point illustrates the lack of consensus BUT a common thread in much of the literature points that smaller high schools benefit areas that contain high minority population and high poverty areas, neither of which affects Warwick in any significant way. Lexington, MA has one high school - consisting if 1800+ kids and they're one of the highest performing districts in MA, arguably the best public schools in the country. Newton, MA has a 2000 student high school. People aren't going to move to Warwick because we have small schools. They'll move here because we have high performing schools. As a district we are not high performing, or even close to it.Warwick has among the highest per pupil expenditures in the state (in the top 5-7, I believe). Warwick teachers are among the highest paid in the state (in the top 7-8 I believe). As a district, we are in the bottom 50% and if you remove charter schools we're in the lowest third, based, again, on NECAP results. That simply is not because of school size. Nor is a large high school some sort of an outdated industrial-type model because larger high schools can afford a district opportunities for more program offerings across the board. Lastly, while it's not all about money, it also is all about money. Education costs money and finances are finite. Further, our school populations are declining primarily because that is the simple demographic trend across the country not because people are pulling their kids out to send them to private schools.

Stevie D,

Frankly, your continued fixation on me is getting creepy. At one point you must realize that your one line comments that lack any intellectual content do nothing to further discussion but only serve as an example of the low intellect feckless mindset of you and your associates. You cant even heckle at any level that would be considered humorous. If you are unable to add anything that heightens the conversation please go away.

Fixation on you? How so? I never mentioned Fenceman in my last post. And I'm just making a point to those that complain. Do something about it if you are unhappy with government and services.

davet1107, While each of Warwick high schools have middle class and upper middle class neighborhoods, Pilgrim and Vets have a substantial portion of poor and special education students that benefit the most from schools between 600-900 students. Pilgrim has 33% of students eligible for subsided lunch and 19% receive special education services. Warwick Vets has 38% of students eligible for subsided lunch and 19% receive special education services. Even Tollgate has 29% of its students eligible for subsided lunch and 21% receive special education services. We should argue with actual data and not make assumptions. Warwick high schools have at least a 1/3 of its students in the "at risk" category. Again, there is no educational purposes to consolidate our schools; only a destructive attempt to save money without any studies showing that it would have any benefit to our students. Our city deserve better. We should strive to have the best high schools in the state rather than taking a step backward by returning our schools to overcrowded conditions. Also, when you compare school performance, please include the demographic information for each school system. Some schools may be good schools but have a greater percentage of poorer students. These poorer students may be improving in these good schools but still not score on achievements tests a well as middle class and upper middle class students, even when middle class and upper middle class students attend inferior schools.

P.S.

Why do most of the people that make comments in Beacon fail to use their real names? My user name identifies who I am: Bob Savage.

It's sad people here are personally attacked when they actually make good points.

Good points are good points and everyone learns from those points.

If you are intelligent then you should be able to keep up on a deeper level than simply insulting people.

As was said, those that are attacking contribute nothing to further the conversation. They don't because they can’t.

The lights are on but nobody is home. It would be better if they just let people think they are an idiot than to open their mouth and prove it. Their birth certificate is an apology from the condom factory. If they were twice as smart they would still be stupid. They act like ignorance is a virtue. Please tell me they don't home school their kids. Seriously though, I'd really like to see things from their point of view, but I can't get my head that far up my ass. It’s as if their parents kept the placenta and threw away the baby. They couldn't pour water out of a boot if the instructions were on the heel.

I'm telling you they are dumb. If they spoke their mind they would be speechless. If we all sprang from apes they didn’t spring far enough and they are as useless as a screen door on a submarine do you know what I mean? I mean useless as can be. And stupid too. They stare and frozen orange juice because the container says "concentrate". Yeah, they are no very bright. Occasionally they will stumble upon the truth but they just pick themselves up and carry on as if nothing happened. It takes people like them an hour to cook minute rice do you know what I'm saying, sheesh!

Again, the Beacon does not have a method to edit previously submitted posts. My last post should have said "subsidized" lunch not "subsided" lunch.

People please this is a simple problem easily fixed. Merge schools save money what is so difficult to understand. Now can we get back to something more important like WOW that man/woman does look like Sam Kinison...

It's not so much that they tabled it that troubles me; the false reasoning behind the tabling troubles me. The plan wasn't rushed, the Committee wasn't rushed, and the plan was NOT written last January. That statement is ridiculous. By stating so, it would mean that last Spring, when the Committee was divided in it's view of the Gorton recommendation, and the School Committee (Bachus included) voted to look for other options, that the Committee had this most current plan in place? Honestly, that makes no sense at all! The Committee RECONVENED in June, following the Gorton hearings. The Committee was told to have a recommendation by January 2014. Do people really think that the LTFPC had nothing better to do than spend the past year "flushing" out the plan to "see if it would work?" Clearly, Ms. Bachus and the City Council people she relied on for third party information, have their facts wrong. The Committee operated with integrity. I do question the integrity of the School Committee. The School Committee did not act with diligence and request monthly reports at the School Committee meetings, so that the public would know what the progress of the LTFPC was. Remember, the School Committee sets the agenda. The School Committee showed no interest in their own sub-committee's findings. Had they followed the Committee's work closely, and found the work being done inadequate, then why go through this ruse? They could have ended this whole thing months ago. Why didn't they dissolve the Committee last May? Did the School Committee understand that they were SUPPOSED to follow what the LTFPC was doing? Why didn't the School Committee roll the cost of a consultant into last Spring's budget? If they had this whole debacle, and it is a debacle, could have been avoided.

I could care less about this situation I send my kids to private schools. Would be nice to get the taxes lowered. Im more concerned about that Sam guy.

I could care less about this situation I send my kids to private schools. Would be nice to get the taxes lowered. Im more concerned about that Sam guy.

More than likely the 3 plans will be variations of which schools will likely be closed/refigured to allow existing programs to continue long term..

Warwick is UNLIKELY to increase population or student enrollment. Maybe you close a high school(Vets/Pilgrim) & a junior high school(Aldrich/Gorton). Maybe you refigure Vets(or Pilgrim) & close Aldrich & Gorton(as proposed). The outside consultant will study & make recommendations.

Personally, due to budget limitations I can not see how the present number of secondary schools can continue without significant reductions in educational programs.

600 school employees, their relatives and friends and probably a few paid protesters = get what you want in RI

When will the search for a new Superintendant begin??? Or are Bushell and Mullen already measuring the drapes?

O

UNREAL! Welcome to the RI shuffle...First, we'll form a committee, then we will study the issue, and study it some more and study it some more Then the committee will render a finding, the powers that be won't like the rendering, we'll study it some more, reject it out of hand, form another committee that will issue a decision to our liking, throwing the first committee under the bus...Then, we will throw out statistics for the masses knowing full well that there are lies, damn lies, then there are statistics.

The issue here is public corruption. An elected body charged with running the schools and its finances chose to disregard the US Census and the actual decline in the school census for a very long time here in the city of Warwick. Millions were raised by increases in the property tax, year after year, millions were squandered by continuing to operate antiquated, energy sucking old buildings, many at 50% capacity or less. At the very least this is gross financial incompetence. At the most, criminal financial malfeasance and fraud...I am leaning to the later because NOTHING in this city or State happens in a vacuum. In the meantime, the exodus from this State continues unabated until it is the deciding factor that ends all this and renders all of this a moot point. It is called voting with your feet and checkbook. Dismiss it at your own peril.

Dave first of all...you made my point for me in your argument. You are right that the School Committee had no interest in renewing Horoshak's contract, so then why wouldn't they let the last few months run out? The answer is because that would mean they'd have a harder time getting "their guy" in. Anyone who looks at those events could see the committee was going with D'agastino all along. 3 out of 5 committee members were at that meeting. Are you telling me that a vote removing a Superintendent of schools shouldn't have every single school committee member there to know what's going on? Even after D'agastino was named an Superintendent, the committee renewed his contract. At that time Beth Furtado said the search for a new Superintendent would begin in the Fall/Winter of this year. Have you heard any report on a search being conducted? No! So now we'll get to the end of D'agastino's contract in July, and the School Committee will act to move Bushell or Mullen (likely Mullen) in his place. What a joke!

As far as the Long Term Committee goes, there's nothing long-term about a 2 year plan. I never said the middle school model could be achieved by just saying the city should do it. If I remember correctly when it came to Gorton, the problem you and others had was that the plan didn't look far ahead enough for the district. Now a "long-term" plan without any commitment for all day kindergarten, or the middle school model has your support? Fitting that you blame unions for those items not being in the plan, as it just shows how political some on the LTFPC and the School Admin really are. I never said we needed 1,000 copies handed out to everyone for it to be transparent. We do have a local paper however, and it would've been nice if the plan had been distributed for print in the Beacon. Declining enrollment would suggest an older population...not too many older folks are going to hop on the internet, click on 4 different links, just to find a report.

I never said that consolidating at the Admin level would give us the equivalent savings we'd get from consolidating schools. Once again you have put words in my mouth. I just think if we're talking about laying-off teachers, secretary's and custodians that make $30,000 a year than perhaps we should look at 6 figure Admin salaries that haven't been touched. Since you asked...you could replace the Dir of Secondary Ed and Dir of Elementary Ed with an Asst Superintendent. 2 jobs into 1. Nevermind the fact we have a Budget Director who couldn't even answer where the savings went last time we closed 4 elementary schools. The LTFPC didn't even look at these issues. Instead they went with the easiest form of saving money, school closure. This districts answer to being cash-strapped CANNOT be "close another school" all the time. They mayor also cannot be exempt from criticism. He has tried to have it both ways, but level funding schools CANNOT be his answer to everything either.

I didn't have a dog in this fight. I looked at this issue objectively, and all along didn't think it was wise to have an in-house committee decide the fate of our schools. EVERYBODY on the committee had local ties, and while I respect what you tried to do for the district I just do not see how you could've given a fair opinion. It's laughable that people said objection to this plan was based on emotion. So how is it that everyone who opposed this deal did so based solely on emotion, yet we are to believe everybody on the LTFPC was acting in the districts best interest. A new set of eyes was needed badly. It needed people who deal with these topics professionally, not folks who go through a year of on the job training on how to be a consolidation expert.

Scal1024,

Not quite sure where to begin. Hoiw would it have been harder to get "their guy" in if they just let his contract expire? Couldn't they just let it expire and then hire D'Agostino? That wouldn't have been much more difficult, in my opinion. Are you sure that only 3 SC members were there when the vote to remove Horoschak was taken? I though it may have been a 3-2 vote, but I could be wrong on that. I guess you're pretty well connected (or clairvoyant) in your certainty that Bushell or Mullen will be the next Super.

The LTFPC was not a 2 year recommendation. It was for repurposing Vets in 2014, closing Gorton & Aldrich in 2015, which allows the move to all day K and Middle in 2016 and 2017. For the record, my issue w/ the Gorton decision was that it precluded going to middles school for at least 6-7 years, perhaps longer and that it hindered all day K too. The current recommendation would've resulted in a facilities set up that made middle school and all day K easy to implement, and close the two oldets buildings at the secondary level, thus avoiding all the costs associated with them.

Who blamed the unions? You completely misread / misunderstood what I said. I just stated a fact that the reason we're noit in middle school is, in part, because of some contractual language that doesn't allow for Admin to unilaterally make that decision. if you consider that blame, then I can't help you. Ask JIm Ginolfi if there contractual language that need to be fixed/changed/clarified in order to move to middle school. You're accusing me of being political? That's rich. Find any post here, or comment I've given that's political - theyre not there.

Your whole argument on the transparency is weak. You equate the result of declining enrollment to mean that we now have too many old people who can't go online to see and or print the docs, it that your contention?

As far as whose job is cut, your argument is a bit more populist than reasonable. As far as the past savings from other school closures, what do you want to know? That it bought new reading texts, math texts, Chrome carts, etc?? Well, tha'ts where it went as well as not having to pay to light and heat the buildings that remain closed. And from staff reductions.

Your statement that everybody on the committee had a local tie infers that the only way a district can consolidate schools is to use people who do not live in the city. OK. I'd simply ask you to look around and find communities that consolidated that did not use a committee that was comprised, overwhelmingly, of local people. And, see if that committee was not empowered to vote on that consolidation.

The derogatory comments toward other human beings MUST stop!!! It serves no purpose but to further reiterate the total ignorance of those posting such statements. It is appalling and reprehensible.

That having been said, you are all wasting your breath. This is a done deal. The airport expansion is what is driving the school closings.

Instead of name calling, etc., why not ask WHY it is that the numbers have dwindled so....it is because people are leaving in droves, knowing that Warwick is a dying city.

Dave, my point is that if the committee let Horoschak's contract just expire, than there would've been pressure from the district to conduct a REAL search. By removing Horoschak from office, the committee made it seem as if they had to hire in district when searching for an interim superintendent because they were in a panic. According to the minutes from that meeting only 3 members voted. One (Friel) was absent and the other ( I believe Medeiros) was late to the meeting. While your sarcasm is appreciated, you don't have to be well connected to see how this district operates. The entire school committee is a buddy system, and has been for the last few years. Also, clearly I'm not as well connected as you, because I have never heard any of the "rumors" that surrounded Horoschak's removal. Perhaps you found that out while sitting around with your other "connected buddies" on the LTFPC while the rest of us "common folk" were trying to get REAL answers for his departure.

The LTFPC WAS a 2 year recommendation. You even say closure of Vets in 2014, Closure of Gorton and Aldrich in 2015, then you say "which allows" the move to middle school...which is just as good as wishing it were so. There was nothing concrete that said all day K and middle school model would be implemented in 2016 and 2017. Which basically makes it a 2 year plan. As far as you being political, you have run for SC and have spoke against unions in the past, have you not? It doesn't take a rocket scientist (that's what you said to me last post) to see where you stood on these issues. I may have misread your last statement on unions, however i thought it was odd that you cited unions "having a hand in" as a reason the middle school model isn't being implemented currently.

To say that my argument on transparency is weak, that's laughable. Here's an example: When will the search for a new Superintendent start? I can cite multiple articles from the Beacon asking for answers to Horoschak's dismissal. Even more articles asking how the committee would move forward in the search for a new Superintendent. Nobody had an answer. Than one fine day, the SC just decides that D'Agostino is the guy they want on an interim basis and they appoint him. Soon after, the committee named him as "acting" Superintendent. That was just supposed to fill time for them to find the next guy. Once again surprise, surprise the committee not only named him Superintendent, they EXTENDED his contract to July '14. Not a bad payday for their buddy. All of this for a guy that was supposed to be hired on an interim basis. Cmte. member Ahearn asked for an outside search to be conducted when filling the job, that request went nowhere. Chairwoman Furtado said that the search to find a superintendent will take months to conduct. So if D'Agostino's contract is up in July '14, and the search to replace him will take months...than why is it we have heard nothing about this?? That is NOT transparency Dave. Will you ask that an outside search be conducted for the next Superintendent??? What do you think of Mullen or Bushell being hired for that position? Do you believe that is the best thing for the district?

You can call it populism all you want, but this district is so top heavy with salaries it's ridiculous. Why should the Superintendent of schools make more than the mayor? Also what was the LTFPC plan for layoffs? How would that have broken down by school? Clearly you guys saw no need to curb anything on the Administrative side, so why is that? I would appreciate answers to the questions I have asked in this post. Especially when it comes to the hiring/interview of a new Superintendent. This back and forth has been respectful, and i hope it continues to be as we continue this debate

Scal1024

I'm not so sure that there would've been any significant pressure from the district to appoint a search committee, but on that we'll never know. I may surprise you here but I agree that there should have been a search committee formed. I'm a fan of bringing in Superintendents from out of the district though people would point to Horoschak as an argument against that. As far as who's "connected" and who isn't , I don't know how to respond to that. If you think I'm somehow "connected" then, while I'm flattered, it's just not true. And, those rumors about Horoschak were floating after his first year here, all you had to do was listen. I'm all for a respectful back and forth but when you write that I might have learned about those rumors while "..sitting around with your 'connected buddies' on the LTFPC" you're not living up to that. That's a cheap shot. None of the parent members on that Committee are, as you say, "connected" but I don't think you'll ever believe that anyway.

I'm not going to explain the 5 year plan thing again but I think it's all but guaranteed that all day K wiill happen in the next couple of years. And, the LTFPC recommendation was a facilities plan and as such, recommended a facilities plan that offered the structure to deal with all day K and middle school while simultaneously dealing with declining enrollment.

Yes, I did run for SC - twice to be exact but beyond that I have no idea what point you're trying to make or what you're talking about. Frankly, I really don't appreciate the characterization that your putting forward here. I should've used words other than "had a hand in" and on that I'll plead guilty but don't make the leap that I'm somehow blaming the union for it. I thought the further explanation regarding the contractual language kind of spelled out the point I was trying to make.

Regarding Transparency you mentioned it in the context of the LTFPC presentation of its recommendation to the School Committee and I replied to that. Now your moving the goal posts by bringing up the issue in the context of a search for a new Super. Again, I'd support a search for a new Super but that's up to the School Committee to decide. As far as Bushell or Mullen filling the position, I have no idea if either of them would make a good Super but if you have a search committee you'll, by definition, gave a bigger talent pool from which to choose. Have you written, emailed or called the School Committee asking them about this issue?

Warwick us no more top heavy than many other districts. Look around and you'll find that in every city and town the Super makes more than the Mayor.

The LTFPC was a facilities committee. It had no say in personnel issues, nor can it because if a school closes, the contract language will determine layoffs. And personnel issues are an Administration function. When the consultant issues their report, I think it'll be silent on what positions are eliminated.

Well Dave it looks like Dr. D is getting his extension. The whole reason i used the word "connected" was because when i suggested that Bushell or Mullen would be the next Supt, you made a joke about ME being connected. It wasn't an attempt at a cheap shot as much as it was making light of something you had said about me. I have posted on more recent articles so i don't have to keep finding this one in the archives. Are you considering being a member of the framework cmte? I'm interested to see who they get to draft the framework for the consultants, this should be a look at the district as a WHOLE, not just school closings...and let's finally look at the impact on a child forced to switch schools. It's easy as an adult to say the students will be fine, but i believe that when studied carefully it can have a large impact. Especially when kids are separated from their best friends, or there favorite teacher. All things must be considered

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