School consolidation up for review again
Panel to draft requirements, work for consultants
The sub-committee of the Warwick School Committee tasked with developing the components of a Request for Proposal (RFP) to hire an outside consultant to examine the school district with regard to consolidation and a long-term plan for the future of the district has scheduled its first meeting.
The RFP Committee will meet from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Saturday, March 15 in the large meeting room in the Warwick Public Library, located at 600 Sandy Lane.
The announcement came at the end of Tuesday night’s School Committee meeting. School Committee members Jennifer Ahearn and Karen Bachus head up the committee and will determine who and how many members it will comprise.
The School Committee approved the creation of the sub-committee a month ago after a recommendation from the Long Term Facilities Planning Committee to close Gorton and Aldrich Junior High Schools and re-purpose Warwick Veterans Memorial High School as a super junior high was rejected. The School Committee chose to hire an outside consultant to examine the district and make a recommendation on how to move forward, a move many members of the public called for during comments expressed at public hearings on the matter.
Following the school committee meeting Tuesday, Ahearn said she has three individuals in mind who have a background in facilities and developing RFPs she wants to include on the committee, and added that she will also be extending an invitation to Mayor Scott Avedisian.
“Hopefully he wants to be part of the process and vision of what our school system looks like in Warwick,” she said, adding that if any City Council members want to take part on the committee, to contact her at email@example.com.
Bachus said the reason it took so long to schedule the first meeting was scarce availability of meeting spaces. She said she expects the committee to number “somewhere around 10 members from all walks of the city.”
“We will do our due diligence to bring forth an RFP that is appropriate and considers the scope and breadth of the issue,” she said. “It may take two meetings, four meetings or six meetings – whatever it takes.”
Ahearn sees things differently.
“I hope it only takes one or two meetings,” she said. “We’re developing requirements for what we want in a consultant. I don’t expect it to be a long, drawn-out process.”
Although Ahearn wanted to set a date to have the sub-committee establish the RFP requirements by, other school committee members didn’t agree it was a good idea.
“For us to give a time limit could open us up to saying we didn’t spend enough time developing the RFP,” said committee members Terri Medeiros.
“It should take as long as it needs to take in order to get it right,” Bachus added. “This isn’t the forum.”
Ahearn said she’s done a lot of homework and research on the matter and she’s ready to go.
“We’re putting together a list of requirements for a consultant to come in and determine if they can handle that and move forward,” she said. “It’s nowhere near to the level of what the Long Term Facilities Planning Committee had to do.”
Rosemary Healey, director of human resources and legal counsel for the School Committee, pointed out the sub-committee members still need to be named.
Although a time limit was not established for the RFP sub-committee to determine what it wants in a consultant, Ahearn said she’s looking for a lot of participation and invited anyone who is interested to attend the March 15 meeting.
“Hopefully we’re able to accomplish a lot,” she said. “With everyone working together, it should only take a few hours.”
Bachus said that while members on the sub-committee have been specifically asked to participate on the committee, the public will be given a 10- to 15-minute opportunity to speak at the beginning of the meeting on March 15. Bachus specified the time period is 10 to 15 minutes in general, not per person speaking.