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Plan unchanged after two nights of hearings, committee expected to vote next Tuesday
Furtado stays course on schools
Matt Bower and Jennifer Rodrigues
Warwick Beacon photos
A FULL HOUSE: The auditorium at Toll Gate High School was packed Monday and Tuesday nights as the School Committee considered a plan to close Aldrich and Gorton junior high schools and re-purposed Vets high as a junior high.

Following six hours spread across two public hearings Monday and Tuesday on the Long Term Facilities Planning Committee’s recommendation to close Aldrich and Gorton junior high schools and re-purpose Warwick Veterans Memorial High School as a super junior high, School Committee Chairwoman Beth Furtado expects to move forward with a vote next week.

Yesterday, Superintendent Richard D’Agostino defended the consolidation proposal, saying the committee looked at four options, including building a new single city high school at a projected cost of $120 million. He questioned if the city would support the cost of a new school.

Of the plan to re-purpose Vets, he said, “that is the best plan for the city given the available resources.”

But that’s not the way many saw it during meetings that saw as many as 600 people fill the Robert J. Shapiro Cultural Arts Center at Toll Gate High School.

Tuesday’s hearing began with the School Committee asking questions of the Long Term Facilities Planning Committee.

While Furtado, Terri Medeiros and Karen Bachus deferred their time to let the public speak on the matter, Jennifer Ahearn and Eugene Nadeau questioned the long-term committee.

Ahearn wanted to know how the building ratings were achieved and why facilities were rated 2’s and 3’s, and whether NESDEC, which provided a 20-year projection of enrollments, also provides a planning and study process for district consolidation. D’Agostino, who headed the long term planning committee, explained that guidelines for building ratings were sent out by the Rhode Island State Department, data was collected by the district and sent to the state, which reviewed it and determined the ratings.

“Boilers, heating systems, roofs, electrical, lighting; it was all examined,” he said.

Regarding NESDEC, he said the company does perform studies of districts for consolidation purposes.

“A representative came to the district and we talked with them. They gave us samples of other districts, mostly in Massachusetts and Connecticut, where they conducted similar studies with aging buildings and declining enrollment,” he said. “The proposal would have cost $150,000 to conduct a study [here], plus an additional $30,000.”

“So you already had an idea of what it would take to have an outside agency come in and do a study,” Ahearn said.

Ahearn also asked about the current average class size and how it would change with consolidation.

Impact on class size

“Currently, the average class size ranges from 14.1 to 15.3,” said Dennis Mullen, director of secondary education, who was also part of the long term planning committee. He said those numbers don’t take into account weighted students or special education students. “The ratio after consolidation ranges from 18.4 to 18.6.”

With an approximate 20 percent decline in enrollment over the last 10 years, and a continued decline in the past five years, Ahearn wanted to know if test scores had risen in correlation with the smaller class sizes.

“Tests have changed over the years, but NECAP [New England Common Assessment Program] scores have gone up, but not substantially,” said Dr. Anne Siesel, assistant director of curriculum and supervisor for music and art. “We started the NECAP in 2005 and up to now there’s been growth, at certain grade levels, in math and reading.”

Nadeau wanted to know the total number of weighted students in the Warwick school system as well as the number of students attending charter schools.

D’Agostino said there are a total of 1,700 students with IEPs [Individualized Education Program], who are counted as 1.5 students in the classroom because they require more time and attention from teachers, in the district and a total of 94 students attending charter schools.

“Don’t we then have in excess of 10,000 students in the schools,” Nadeau asked, taking into account the 1,700 weighted students.

“The state measures by the number of bodies in the classroom,” D’Agostino answered. “We have 9,313 students; that’s the number that was reported to the census.”

Nadeau continued.

“Weighted students are counted for teachers in the room,” he said. “Teachers have to deal with that number.”

Nadeau said he knows enrollment numbers are declining, “but it’s not inevitable that the population will decline to zero; things go down and up, just like the stock market.”

Nadeau said he’s been involved in Warwick education for 40 years, ever since his children started at John Brown Francis.

“For 40 years I’ve been told that smaller classrooms are more beneficial because teachers can spend more time with each student to help them move on,” he said. “Teachers have a lot on their plate right now with state mandates, Common Core, Response to Intervention, the PARCC [Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers] test, the STARR system, coming technology, evaluations, NECAP and differentiated instruction – how much do we demand of them while they should be teaching the subjects in which they’re educated?”

Nadeau said Common Core is more difficult for the students, which is evidenced by the decreased percentage of accomplishment in areas where it’s been implemented, and will require more of teachers and administrators.

“If we’re to give students the education they deserve, then smaller rooms are to their advantage,” he said.

Nadeau said he would like to see the sixth grade moved up to each of the three current junior highs to form the middle school model, which Common Core needs to be successful, as well as full-day Kindergarten.

“That’s the primary step to be taken. We need to see what it means to parents and families,” he said. “When those two things have occurred, then we can look at the picture in Warwick, and if consolidation needs to be done, at least we’ll be prepared for it.”

Delaying inevitable

David Testa, a parent and member of the long term planning committee, disagreed with Nadeau.

“You’re delaying the inevitable,” he said. “You’re just kicking the can down the road. The demographics don’t lie; it will take a long time to have 12,000 to 13,000 students in the system, if ever.”

Testa said classroom weighting is an issue the district must deal with.

“You’re talking an extra three or four, tops. Yes, that’s an increase in class size, but you have to keep the numbers in perspective,” he said.

Nadeau said he would like to delay the closing of Vets for two years.

“You’re elected to make that decision, but you will be in the same room with the same people discussing the same thing in two years,” Testa said.

Director of Elementary Education Robert Bushell said all-day kindergarten would be needed in order for students to complete Common Core.

“We’re under the gun. We need $3 million to generate the classes we need,” he said. “If we don’t have the money to support the staff for the rooms, the students will suffer.”

Nadeau said the district needs the cooperation of the unions and employees in the school department as well as the City Council in order to accomplish what needs to be done.

“There’s nothing we can’t accomplish if we put our minds to it,” he said.

Monday night’s hearing started off with a nearly 90-minute presentation from D’Agostino, Mullen and Bushell reading almost word for word the long-term committee’s report. Little new information was presented during the report, which featured all of the data the committee had been reviewing since June, including the drop in student population from it’s peak of 19,464 students in 1968 to only 9,313 today, and NESDEC projections that by 2023 the population will drop further to 8,430. D’Agostino also pointed out that the junior high schools are at 55 percent excess capacity and the high schools are roughly the same.

Much to the crowd’s displeasure, no information was displayed on the projection screen. This led to the crowd shouting out “where are the numbers?” and “where are the slides?”

In response, D’Agostino said the report had been online and individuals had ample time to review the information in its entirety and print their own copy. As the presentation continued, the crowd became more restless, shouting out that the information was being kept hidden.

One new bit of information provided by D’Agostino was that he had discussed with Vets principal Gerry Habershaw and other parties the possibility of keeping the Vets senior class together next year. However, no explanation was provided as to how.

All day-K

D’Agostino also said the transition of the sixth grade to the junior highs and the start of all-day K in the district could begin as early as fall 2015, combining the change with the move of Aldrich and Gorton students to Winman Junior High and the new Vets Junior High. In an interview on Tuesday, D’Agostino said he believes that is possible by 2015.

“That’s huge,” said Furtado in an interview yesterday.

Finally at 7:44 p.m., D’Agostino completed reading the committee’s report, only to announce a PowerPoint presentation of the same data would be shown.

The crowd erupted, shouting that they had already heard it and demanded for their opportunity to speak. D’Agostino and Mullen attempted to speak over the crowd, with D’Agostino pausing to say “you’re cutting into your speaking time.” The shouting only continued. Finally, at 7:52 p.m., the public comments were able to begin with almost 50 individuals signed up.

Darlene Netcoh, head of the English department at Toll Gate and Winman, had been a constant presence at Long Term Committee meetings and she was first to share her opinion on the recommendation, which she says is filled with “fallacious figures.”

“The basic premise of the recommendation to close Vets is flawed. I spend every day in one of the schools; three schools cannot fit into two,” said Netcoh. When she heard the committee report that schools were at 50 percent capacity, she conducted her own study, going around to department heads at Toll Gate and calculating their room usage. “They are at 84 percent capacity, which is a far cry from the data the committee had.”

Netcoh argues the nature of education has changed with new programs and new technology, and believes there would be no way to educate the students of Warwick properly with increased population.

“Closing Vets and then closing Aldrich and Gorton and cramming all those kids into buildings does not a plan make,” said Netcoh, who invited anyone to take a tour of the high schools during the school day. “I’ll show you real room usage in action.”

Union argues plan wasnt followed

President of the Warwick Teachers Union Jim Ginolfi also spoke on Monday about the fact that the committee failed to follow the School Committee’s request from last May.

“I think it really needs to be emphasized that the School Committee’s motion is not being followed,” said Ginolfi. “They didn’t produce three viable plans.”

Ginolfi referenced the School Committee meeting minutes from the May 14 meeting where Bachus made a motion that the Long Term Committee regroup and come back in January 2014 with “three viable plans, not one.”

“Read the summary. They were given a different charge. They have not presented you with three plans. They need to go back and start all over again,” said Ginolfi.

Following Nadeau’s comments on Tuesday, public comments resumed. Furtado said 75 people signed up to speak Tuesday, which began with the list of names of those who signed up to speak Monday but didn’t get the chance.

Vets senior Stephen Dennis said he feels the odds have been stacked against Vets from the beginning, calling the long-term committee “unfair and biased.”

“My brother will be in ninth grade next year. Grades 7 through 12 are an important part of your life because that’s where you find and mold yourself and I don’t want my brother molded anywhere else,” he said.

In response to the fact that the district could save money by avoiding fire code upgrades at Aldrich and Gorton if they were to close, Dennis said he found it sad that it takes a school closing to address such issues.

“The School Committee has made the Warwick education system a bit laughable,” he said. “I’m proud of my town. I’ve talked to many adults and asked for advice on what I need to do to be successful, and I find it disheartening that I’m told to get out of Warwick and get of Rhode Island, but I’m finding it more convincing.”

Vets Chorus teacher Nancy Kennedy also expressed her feelings that the recommendation is “demoralizing” to students and faculty and has been a distraction since it was announced in October.

“I don’t get thrown much, but this is throwing me,” said Kennedy.

Kennedy added that she believes the recommendation should have been crafted with outside experts, multiple plans should have been created with input from each school’s administration, the public should have been allowed to give input for “months not minutes,” and the ultimate decision should be left up to the voters.

Wheres the savings?

Michael Pierce, a parent and teacher at Gorton, said consolidation is not about saving money.

“If you look at the numbers, busing costs are more than the savings in operating costs,” he said. “The savings are $4 million in staffing cuts, so let’s call it what it is; cutting teachers, increasing class sizes and losing neighborhood schools. You could keep the schools open, cut the same amount of staff and save more money.”

Pierce said it was astounding that no one has mentioned the fact consolidation would be taking place during the same year the district implements the PARCC test, which he described as “the most difficult assessment ever taken.”

One concerned parent, Bob Savage, questioned why the committee did not look at professional studies that say smaller high schools with 600 to 900 students are optimal for success. “You didn’t hear anyone talk about studies,” said Savage. “Why haven’t we heard anything from the committee regarding studies of what the best-size high school is?”

Peter Stone, a Warwick teacher and parent of a daughter at Aldrich, suggested cuts in administrative positions to find savings instead of closing schools. He proposed one assistant superintendent (not two); a secretary instead of a director to oversee transportation, which has been privatized, similar to food service; one supervisor for English language arts, math and science (not two); and one director of information services (not three).

“That should be enough to save the schools,” he said.

George Landrie, a teacher at Toll Gate who has also taught at Gorton and Aldrich, said he was disappointed the long-term committee only presented one plan instead of three, as requested.

“This raises too many issues to talk about in three minutes, so I’m just going to focus on class size,” he said. “This flies in the face of all the research done on class size, which says that smaller sizes provide better teacher-student ratios, teachers are more engaged with students, the curriculum and content gets covered, it impacts students’ creativity, and helps to close achievement gaps,” he said, adding larger class sizes will adversely affect student dropout rate. “Parents and teachers want what’s best for their children and smaller class sizes will deliver instruction at the optimum level; that’s not in this plan.”

Testa reiterated school population has been on a slow and steady decline, saying projections show a 40 percent decline in 20 years.

“You can employ past practices and avoid it, or you can do something about it,” he said. “Closing Gorton and Aldrich saves over $2 million by avoiding fire code upgrades, and the new class sizes won’t differ from what they were a few years ago.”

Testa said the district must start providing all-day Kindergarten, the middle school model and update modern technology, all while continuing to be level-funded by the city.

“The City Council criticizes the school department whenever schools are consolidated, but at budget time, they exact a pound of flesh,” he said.

City Council President Donna Travis, who was in attendance with fellow council members Camille Vella-Wilkinson and Ed Ladoucer, said the council can only give the school department a number when it comes to the budget.

“For years I’ve been saying get more books, fix the mold in the schools. They don’t fix your schools, but they can give out raises,” she said angrily. “The taxpayers want their garbage picked up and their streets plowed, but most importantly they want a good education for their children. They should have gotten an outside agency to do this study.”

Vella-Wilkinson admitted the council has level-funded schools but said when the council gets the budget from the schools, it can only approve or disapprove it.

“If there’s a surplus on the city side, that goes back into the general fund,” she said. “What’s happening to the surplus in the schools? They hired another six-figure administrator that, with benefits, comes to $130,000. That was on a wish list. You know what’s on my wish list? I wish the science teacher wasn’t running through the halls with a wagon because he doesn’t have a room; I wish for a full-time librarian; I wish for the teachers we have at Vets and Gerry Habershaw, who is a tremendous leader; but I really wish that when Karen Bachus asked for two or three long-range plans, that we received that.”

Ladoucer said he didn’t believe anyone could make a decision based on the information that’s been presented.

“What I’ve heard is subjective, not objective. There’s no reports from engineers or from professionals on the conditions of the athletic fields,” he said. “Have you met with the teachers? Have you asked them what they need? How will this affect students?”

Brendan Friel, a 2002 Vets graduate and current teacher, said while technology advancements are good, it can be dangerous to focus solely on technology.

“Warwick has been able to provide opportunities like literacy and math labs and Response to Intervention; these are doable because of the smaller class sizes, which have resulted in higher test scores and lower dropout rates,” he said. “If we consolidate, yes we could save money and we may get wifi and improved technology, but what opportunities are we taking away? To save money and increase technology is a step in the right direction, but it will limit the opportunities we’ve gained in the past couple of years with lower numbers.”

Kayleigh Nedow, a sixth grader at Robertson, said it will be difficult to leave her school because of the relationships she’s developed there.

“The smaller classes have helped me become who I am,” she said, before criticizing the long-term committee. “The numbers you calculated are inflated by 30 to 40 percent. I noticed a flaw in your calculations; you’re not taking into account that ALP, which count as two, and IEP, which count as one and a half, students require extra time from the content teacher.”

Kayleigh said consolidation would result in increased poor NECAP scores and have a negative impact on teacher certification.

“How is this fair? I’m an excellent student and I deserve to continue to be one,” she said. “We should not have more pressure put on us due to a quick decision that we don’t agree with. This decision will affect our emotional and social well-being.”

Echoing Kayleigh’s comments, Vets senior Jonathan Nordin said, “You’re asking us to raise our grades when we’re entering a building where we are being bullied. All the evidence is on social media.”

Mary Iadevaia, the parent of a junior at Vets, summarized the effect this recommendation is having on students in the schools during her comments.

“What about such things as class ranking, class rings, school colors, classroom sizes, honor classes, Leadership Academy and athletics? All of these are significant student issues, and more, contribute to the identity of each high school student,” said Iadevaia.
She also said that the recommendation needed community involvement according to the Schoolhouse Assessment’s recommendation and the students are not being properly informed for their future.

“The closing of Warwick Veterans Memorial High School deserves singular and serious attention and should not be a line item in plans for all-day kindergarten and grades six through eight middle schools. This is a plan without a plan for our students and children,” said Iadevaia.

Many audience members later expressed their anger on social media sites that School Committee members were on their phones or computers and having side conversations while the public was making their comments.

“We had to say we would be respectful,” said Monica Chadwick during her comments. “I would think you would give us the same respect by not having side conversations and using your cell phones.”

Although the School Committee could have voted to extend the Tuesday hearing an extra hour, to 10:30 p.m., the meeting was adjourned shortly after 9:30, leaving a number of people that signed up to speak unable to do so.

Yesterday, Furtado said she is confident the right decision will be made, adding that all 15 members of the long-term committee agreed consolidation was necessary and she believes a silent majority agrees.

Support for consolidation

“On Monday and Tuesday the majority of calls and emails were in support of consolidation,” said Furtado. “I was elected to represent everyone in my district.”

Furtado explained that she has been following the process and reviewing the information regarding school consolidation for years and that this idea is not new. She said she has been speaking with and asking questions to members of the long-term committee as well as the public for a while and is ready to move forward.

“I’ll make a statement, but I’ve asked my questions. I’ve done my homework,” said Furtado. “I’ve got to do what the majority of the people who elected me want me to do. There’s no reason to drag this out further.”

Furtado knows the hearings were emotional and the discussion to close a school is always emotional, but to delay a decision like this for another few years will only cause more problems if population decreases but the cost of salaries, benefits and operating buildings continues to go up.

“Tomorrow never comes. You have to do it today. We can’t afford to operate these buildings,” she said. “Everything goes up, but the money we get based on population is going to go down.”

Furtado said the savings will allow the district to provide the same programming across the board and would benefit the entire city.

“The entire city is a community. It’s for the best of the city,” she said. “They say it’s about money. No, it’s about education.”

Furtado said the next School Committee meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 10 at 7 p.m. Although the agenda will be made official today, she expected a vote on school consolidation to be on it.


Comments
16 comments on this item

One important point: Teachers are quick to criticize this and any other plan proposed. They also bring many valid points and questions to the table. However, they (or, probably more correctly, their union) have also refused multiple invitations to have teacher representatives on the Long Term Planning committee. That is not operating "in good faith." Contrast that with the WISE union, which has had a representative.

Concerning the recommendation of the Long Term Planning Committee: The teachers' union is predictably against it. There can be little doubt, therefore, that the recommendation makes a great deal of sense.

Thank god we have a school committee that puts the students first. I'm glad the kids in Oakland Beach get to go to school at Tollgate. Enough with the unions and teachers just trying to look out for themselves while the children suffer.

WOW...Imagine if 600 showed up at regular school committee meetings, or council meetings, or budget hearings during late spring? This is the RI mindset, rampant parochialism, nimbyism, me me meism...etc. The crime is that these buildings were allowed to continue to operate at 50% capacity for years, maintaining and heating those old buildings. All that money thrown down a rat hole keeping the status quo instead of freeing that money for more productive uses. Nice signs in the audience though, who paid for those?

It's a very difficult issue. Students/Teachers/Parents are all loyal to whatever school they attend(generally). However, difficult choices need to be made. Does the entire school community want to keep more school buildings operating "as is" including making the necessary physical upgrades at the expense of future school programs(sports/music/ALAP/other extra curricular activities, etc.)? If the teachers/the Warwick Teachers Union doesn't agree with the LTPP Committee & their recommendation, what alternative(s) do they recommend? In the future, if Warwick continues to keep the situation "as is" the Warwick taxpayers won't be able to fund education it as it currently exists. School enrollment HAS DECLINED & Warwick's population HAS ALSO DECLINED- this point is UNREFUTABLE. If Warwick can't fund education properly, parents will enroll their children in private schools.

Exactly the problem, bendover! I thought the same thing! Something should have been done years ago!

@RonPaul your assumption that Oakland Beach kids get to go to Toll Gate is just that, an assumption. Do you have the map of the boundary lines? This is one of the biggest points of concern for the students. How can you vote on a plan that sends 950 students to two different schools without seeing the boundary lines? To my knowledge only one school committee member has gone to the other two high schools during the school day to verify the capacity numbers. Wouldn't you want to know what classes are going to fit where? what students are going to what school? Or do you just vote, close a high school and hope all goes well at the start of the school year in August? Seems irresponsible to me. And about your comment directed at me, "teachers just trying to look out for themselves while the children suffer." Ask any of my students and parents if this is correct. Ken Genereux Special Educator Veterans Memorial High School

@RonPaul, I am a resident of Oakland Beach, and all the kids in Warwick High Schools already have the opportunity to attend the Vocational School at Tollgate. As far as attending all day, I doubt the boundary lines will fall that way, and that is yet to be seen. When we talk about declining enrollment, taxes, quality of schools; we also have to take into consideration the casualties when accepting a proposal that is not thoroughly planned. The LTFPC did not bring back to the school committee what was asked for. If you hire a contractor to renovate your kitchen and ask for three plans, do you except one? No matter how good one plan may seem, hands down three plans could give you better scenarios. Yes, it may have taken more time to create three plans, but this is, after all "a long term plan". I think the youth of Warwick deserve better than this.

After ALAP was killed, Superintendent D'Agostino attended an ALAP PTA meeting and told parents that the gifted and talented elementary students would be provided with "differentiated learning" in the classroom. The parents were skeptical of this statement and unsurprisingly, differentiated learning has not occurred up to this point, and it doesn't look like things will change any time soon. To make matters worse, amazingly and perhaps ironically the school department discovered a surplus once It was too late to reinstate ALAP.

It's pretty clear that D'Agostino has no problem lying to people, so what makes anyone think that he's being truthful about school closings? D'Agostino and most of the school committee couldn't care less about the students, parents, and educators in Warwick. The next school committee election can't come soon enough.

Hello, Yes the junior highs have been at 50% capacity. That problem should have been taken care of a VERY long time ago by moving the 6th graders into the junior highs. You cannot make excuses. I work and teach in a middle school for another district. Our school is 6th-8th and just as old if not older than both Aldrich and Gorton. and we are fine. As a matter of fact due the projected increase in middle schoolers for the 2014-2015 year they are re-opening a couple of closed elementary schools to make room for these students. They not making schools bigger.

Also a 5 yr plan is NOT a long term plan. Heck my son who is in a 9th grade honors English class at Vets just did a presentation on the 20yr plan that the Pawtucket school district is implementing. for its schools. We learned that the teacher was extemely impressed.

What about the educational aspect of the plan. I have seen nor read nothing about an educational plan. What besides consolidating blgs do they plan to do?? Be specific.. I want to see a very specific education plan to go along with the consolidation of bldgs. Lay it out and I don't want to just hear more technology etc.. I want real specifics.

This is a very bad plan for the community and the students who will attend these achools . I have taught in large classrooms in a high school. with 26 students in the class. It is too many. Don't tell me that the class sizes are going to go up to 18 students. That is a lie . With over 1000 kids in a school you can't tell me that there will only be a maximum of 18 in a class. Will there in fact be enough classrooms to fit all of the students??

This plan needs more than just 5 years!!!!

Momo12,

Your town's experience may be that their middle school populations are increasing. The fact of the matter is that Warwick does not have that issue, real or potential, for at least 10 more years. Many may not want to believe that, but it's a simple fact. Yes, Warwick turned a blind eye to all of this for decades but and now it has to be dealt with. The LTFPC really should've been called the Facilities a Planning Committee, in my view. The class size references were average class sizes, I believe the median average. Will some classes have the max contractually mandated 28 weighted students? Sure. Will all? No. As far as having enough classrooms, what did we do in Pikgrim, in '05 when we had 1376 students? If consolidation brings their population up to 1500 kids, that's about 125 kids more (spread over four grades) than were there in '05. If you insist that it'd be a problem now, then are you saying that we were short changing students in '05? There are enough class rooms in both buildings. As far as the Pawtucket plan is concerned, bear in mind that their plan is a facilities plan, and from what I've read of it, I haven't seen any educational component part like your insisting on seeing here. Pawtuckets plan is to address their deteriorating buildings only and they're pursuing RIDE reimbursement through RIDE's SCR program. Problem is, their City Council has not signed off on the $240 million project iand there's some undercurrent there because some City officials feel that the School Dept is trying to cut them out of the process. Incidentally, they're proposing repurposing Shea High School into a middle school. Pawtuckets infrastructure problems are worse than Warwick's as witnessed by roofs that failed in an elementary school that forced them to do emergency repairs to other school roofs and ceilings.

The recommendation of the Committee us a 5 year plan: repurpose Vets, close Gorton & Aldrich, move to all day K and middle school and deals squarely with under utilized facilities. Facilities use is driven by student population, period, so rearranging things to keep the same number of buildings in the face of the current and future populations accomplishes nothing. And once you implement all day K and Middle school, I think you need some breathing room to focus on making sure those implementations are being done effectively. I say that because, though from a teacher perspective, I'd expect none to quibble with all day K, but I think there may - may - be a minority who have issues with middle school so we need to make sure that everyone is on board and is being effective. Lastly, remember that our populations continue to decline so from a facilities perspective, planning can then start for 10-20 years out because unless there's a huge influx kids, our populations are not going to suddenly start a steep upswing, even if the 400 houses for sale (which needs to be offset by the approximate 200 that the Airport still has to take as part of runway expansion) are sold to young, incredibly fertile families.

Just want to throw out a little piece of information most people don't know. The student to teacher ratio may be 18 to 1 but do all of these students really belong there. Does Warwick retain students? I don't believe so. These teachers may have 18 students in front of them but many are off grade level by multiple years. Once the year ends the Administration has meetings to discuss who should be pushed along and who should remain for another year regardless of the grades given by the classroom teacher.

The point of this information is for you to think. WILL MAKING THESE CLASSES LARGER MAKE ANYTHING BETTER FOR OUR STUDENTS?

The class sizes are small because these classes are being used to try and remediate these students. We just keep pushing the students along to grades they don't belong in.

Parents really need to take a deep look into this system… They are pulling a sheet over our eyes!!

Education plan? That's the funniest thing I've read so far. The plan has always been to teach to the minimum standard. Proven by the cancelation of ALAP, the top 10% get left to educate themselves through other resources. They get cheated out of available AP credits because there isn't enough teachers qualified to teach them. Fix That then talk about how much money you want to spend consolidating schools.

This is why I am forced to spend almost $30 K to send my kids to private school and avoid all this nonsense that will continue due to the failure to make common sense decisions and put emotions aside.

I noticed the 3 hypocrites spoke.....Travis, Vella-Wilkinson and Ladoucer....they have done nothing on the city council to control runaway spending yet they criticize the school dept for trying to control spending by closing Vets.The city council has leveled funded the schools for years....but city spending has exploded.

Message to Travis and Vella-Wilkinson.....why don't you control fire dept overtime spending that would give us more money for schools. For Vella-Wilkinson to cite Karen Backus....an insult to any voter in Warwick.

Travis, Vella=Wilinson and Ladoucer......STOP YOUR GRANDSTANDING !!!!!!!!!

It was something to see alright. It was two nights of non-stop nasty and the second night was the showstopper....The "Three Stooges" made an appearance to entertain the masses.

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