October 25, 2014
Rate this
Added school surplus reduces need for cuts
Jennifer Rodrigues

On Tuesday night, the School Committee met to approve a budget for next year, utilizing a $2.5 million surplus. However, cuts still needed to be made to cover the full $3.4 million deficit.

It was initially estimated by Chief Budget Officer Anthony Ferrucci that the surplus would be around $1.3 million. However, following the close of the fiscal year, more funds were made available than expected.

“It was a perfect storm in our favor,” Superintendent Richard D’Agostino said yesterday describing savings on a number of budgeted expenses. They included a reduction in out-of-district tuitions for special education students and salary savings resulting from retirements.

Because of the added surplus, many of the proposed cuts from the June 27 School Committee meeting were re-instated. As described in the budget proposal, cuts were re-instated based on highest priority.

Re-instated items include interscholastic sports, out-of-district tuition, charter school tuitions, transportation, music and art equipment, technology-related hardware and extracurricular activities.

Cuts that remained include fuel cuts, a number of staff positions and the ALAP program.

D’Agostino explained that cuts to staff were necessary due to declining enrollment at schools.

“As we continue, our numbers tend to go down, as well as the need for instructors for those children,” said D’Agostino. He did not have the exact number of eliminated positions available at press time.

ALAP, or Accelerated Learning Activities Program, is often proposed to be cut because it does not affect a large population of students. ALAP is a specialized program for advanced students and includes three staff members.

Jacqueline Harris-Connor, a member of the Long Term Facilities Planning Committee, responded to a comment on the Beacon’s Facebook page regarding the elimination of ALAP.

“In order to save ALAP, there were members of the School Committee who were willing to extend the walking distance for some of the students and not give them bus services at all,” wrote Harris-Connor, adding that this would take away bus service from those in the elementary schools in particular.

She referred to ALAP as a quota program that does not benefit all of those qualified to be in it.

“Unlike resources that are available to ALL learning disabled children in Warwick, only a small percentage of children are invited into ALAP every year because there is limited availability,” wrote Harris-Connor.

Harris-Connor added that unless the program was extended to all qualified students, like remedial resources are, it should have been stopped.

“Maybe down the line it will be brought back in a broader sense,” she wrote.

A broader sense is certainly what D’Agostino is thinking about when it comes to ALAP.

“We hope to go in a different direction [in terms of ALAP],” said the superintendent.

By providing increases in professional development and classroom materials, D’Agostino believes they will be able to integrate the advanced learning components of ALAP to students directly in their regular classrooms.

Students in ALAP are brought out of their regular classroom to work on their advanced work, but D’Agostino believes it is the responsibility of the classroom teacher to provide for all students, regardless of their performance level.

“I think we can reach more kids that way,” said D’Agostino.

Beth Furtado, chairperson of the School Committee, said the revised budget featuring reinstatements from the $2.5 million surplus passed with amendments.

D’Agostino said the amendment regarded the use of custodians following extra-curricular activities.

Other amendments such as the reinstatement of the full-time librarian at Gorton Junior High School and the reinstatement of ALAP all failed, according to the superintendent.


Comments
28 comments on this item

Great, cut ALAP. The kids are gifted, they will find someway to entertain themselves while their sixth grade teacher instructs the class in how to count to ten and which is the big A and which is the little a.

We are doomed, Charlie Brown, doomed.

Great vote by the majority of the school committee......gifted kids are penalized but Healy and Company gives raises to WISE union etc.

How about the contracts to Hsorsack and Flood? Another Healy masterpiece.

Hey Backus.....you don't think we notice d that you didn't have the guts to cast a vote.....that vote will come back to haunt you....that is a promise.

In regard to Harris-Connor's comments about services being available to ALL with learning disabilities, that is because it is federally and state mandated. It is not an item that can be cut. Services for those identified as gifted are not federally mandated and RI is in the minority of states that does not mandate services for gifted.

Would she advocate cutting services for those with learning disabilities entirely if it wasn't mandated? If it was an item up for budgetary consideration would it make sense if there was not enough money for every single child with a learning disability that we then provide no services?

Differentiated education training sounds great, exactly how will that work in practice? Will all the 3rd to 6th grade elementary school teachers be provided with this training and the materials for this by start of school? We are asking them to bring up NECAP's to minimum proficiency for all and to now absorb all advanced curricula as well...

I also want to note mrs Bachus' abstention in this vote. I was more angry at that than the no votes. If my 10 year old daughter had the courage and conviction to wait over 2 hours in that auditorium and stand up and speak to the school committee in front of everyone, Mrs. Bachus owed it to her to at least have the courage to vote instead of just letting ALAP reinstatement fail without going on the record with the tough decision.

Lastly, I would like to see some clarification of the dollar figure saved by canceling ALAP, the figure seems inflated as it assumes 2.5 top step teacher's being eliminated, it is my understanding that the outstanding ALAP teachers will still have jobs within the school system so step savings, longevity etc are not truly changed.

@ Justanidiot: Just because a child is not in ALAP, doesn't make them stupid. My son is a very smart sixth grader, who is not in the ALAP program, but probably knows a lot more than you. Your name "Justanidiot" seems fitting to me. How dare you. Why don't you keep your comments to yourself!

Here is a fact for you. 22 days after being elected, SC member Karen Bachus, without looking at the budget got together with 2 other members of the school committee and voted to give the WISE union a raise of 1 1/2%. The committee had not even had a regular meeting yet. 2 members of the school committee did not even know they were in negotiations with the WISE union as the contract was 9 months away from ending and 2 new members were just elected to the board. The WISE union supported Ms Bachus financially and this can be viewed on the Secretary of State website on her financial disclosure forms. They gave her money to run for the committee, they stood out at all the polls for her and the first things she did was give them a raise. Is this surprising to me, NO. In return for the raise the WISE union agreed to no concessions. The Raise was a total of $300K annually. I must point out that this program served 300 students, 7.5% of the elementary population. The cost of the program was stated by administration to cost $325K, (I served on the SC for 4 years and I would estimate the cost at 200K). So, the raise this SC gave to the union without deliberations, without concessions, without thought, for union "peace", I would just call it what it is, a payback for getting Bachus elected, is equal to the cost of this great program that was cut.

I will agree that ALAP serves approximately 300 students and there is a well defined cut off for getting into the program so it doesn't serve every student. When the funding is cut to the program, the money will not be used to serve any students either. It is being given to the WISE union in return for union peace. So... how does that serve the students? I am not saying the staff members of the WISE union do not deserve a raise but the committee should have found cuts or received a concession in another area to pay for the raise. Instead, they made a quick decision and the students are paying for it.

If every student wanted to play an instrument, would the schools be able to provide it for them or provide instruction for every child? The answer is no. There are not enough teachers to have every student play an instrument. Should we get rid of band all together and just have chorus because we can not provide the service to every student? ALAP has a motto, it is raising the bar. We have just lowered the bar and are now striving for the status quo, as usual.

I will tell you now, kids who didn't make it into ALAP in 3rd grade, tried harder and got into the program in 4th grade. Kids that were in, got bored and left. It was not the same kids every year and many were offered the opportunity and chose not to do it. It was not an exclusive program. 4 years ago they cut a position from 3 teachers to 2.5 teachers. If people wanted more kids in the program, they should have fought for the program to be expanded to more teachers.

I can guarantee 2 things. One, The money cut will not go into the schools for ALL the kids to have more enrichment, it is already gone for salaries. Two, at a time when we should be putting in more programs like this to attract more families to Warwick, we will have more leave because they are sick of paying more money for less services. It is a lose- lose situation for taxpayers, parents and our students.

Bachus abstained from this vote because she didn't want to vote to actually cut the program because it would mean cutting union jobs. She is gutless and a coward. She is also the vice president of the SEIU. This is the same group that got the Governor to sign the Day Care Workers UNION bill.

One of the most troubling issues for me the night this program was cut was the fact that the schools did not put "ALAP program is being cut" on the agenda. Each year prior, it was openly discussed and ALAP was on the agenda to be cut. Fifty to Sixty Parents turned out to voice their opposition. This year, in my opinion, they were sneaky and did an involuntary transfer of the ALAP teachers. ALAP was not even on the agenda. Many parents probably didn't even know ALAP was possibly being cut.

I wanted to let all parents know that I spoke with several SC members after the meeting. The School Committee does not want to cut this program but they feel they have no choice but to cut it to make up the deficit.

It is a fact that families choose to live in a city based on the school system. The fact the Warwick has this program is very attractive to families.

The State sends approximately $8000 in student funding to Warwick for each student who attends school in Warwick. I explained to the school committee tonight that for every student who is in the ALAP program, the schools receives this $8000. The administration stated tonight that ALAP costs $325K. If this is the case, if 41 ALAP Students leave Warwick schools, the schools would save no money. There are 300 students in ALAP throughout Warwick. I believe that ALAP Costs approximately $200K.

There are 2.5 full time teachers who teach ALAP. Their combined salaries and benefits are approximately $250,000. THESE teachers ARE NOT being laid off, they are being returned to the regular classrooms. The schools do not save their salaries. They do NOT save $250,000. They save the cost of the 2.5 most recently hired teachers. These teachers make approximately $60,000 each including benefits. At 2.5 teachers this is $150,000. I add in $30,000 for in class materials. If Alap costs $180K, and 22 students leave, the schools saved no money by cutting the program. Administration suggests that ALAP costs $325K. If this is the case, if 41 Students leave Warwick schools, the schools would save no money.

Please draft a short letter and send it to the School committee. The letter should simply state that with the ALAP program being cut, you will be considering placing your child in another school system and ask what steps must be taken to transfer to a private school. If they receive a stack of letters and it is more than 40 letters, they will realize they have made a bad decision.

I do not believe this is a bluff. I truly believe that parents will take their students out of the schools if they believe they will not be getting an appropriate education. One of the most important things to realize is that education in RI should be Free and Appropriate. I do not believe that my student will be getting an appropriate education if this program is cut. If this program is cut, I will be working for a voucher program to allow my child to attend a school that has an appropriate education.

Administration will be forced to act on this situation. If many students leave one school, administration can lay off one teacher to resolve the issue. They know that ALAP is spread across all Warwick elementary schools and they will not be able to resolve the loss of State funding by laying off a teacher. If we can make them realize that by cutting this program, there is the potential to see NO savings, then why would they cut it?

We need every ALAP Parent to know there is still a chance to save ALAP. I would suggest also calling every member daily until they respond. They cut $170K from the budget tonight and didn't put it any where. They found within a month that they had a surplus of $1 Million. They may find another $150K- 200K within the next month. 2 members of the committee worked hard to get ALAP reinstated. They were one vote away from reinstating it. With a little work, within the next month, it can be saved for another year. This program should not be cut. While on the surface, it looks like cutting it will save money, there is a very real potential to save no money.

Here is the School Committee Members contact info. You can reach each member by emailing them.

Remember, they are not the enemy, they really do want to save the program. Help them realize how important this program is to them.

Bethany A. Furtado, Chairperson

18 Cardinal St, Warwick, RI, 02886

401-737-2354

furtadob@warwickschools.org

M. Terri Medeiros, Vice Chair

5 Lyndon Avenue, Warwick, RI, 02889

401-921-5116

medeirost@warwickschools.org

Jennifer Ahearn, Clerk

401-954-1279

ahearnj@warwickschools.org

Eugene A. Nadeau

15 Killdeer Road, Warwick, RI, 02888

401-463-8742

nadeaue@warwickschools.org

Karen Bachus

208 Burt Street, Warwick, RI, 02886

401-738-2106

bachusk@warwickschools.org

Superintendent

Richard D'Agostino, Ed.D.

401-734-3100

dagostinor@warwickschools.org

I do want to add that in addition to getting State funding for Warwick, our ALAP students provide much to the schools by way of their achievement on the NECAP testing. My child usually scores in the 98-99% on the necap, this off sets a student score that is low.

My daughter was very sick several years ago and was out of school during Necap testing. The principal called my house personally and asked if I could bring my daughter in for testing even though she was very sick so she could take the necap test. I explained she was sick, he asked if she could just come for the morning because that was when testing was. "Couldn't she just make it for the morning? " I was livid. Would you ask a 4th grader who was sick to come in for a test? He was afraid the schools would get a zero necap score for her. She went in after a few days and made up the test. She scored a 99%.

If ALAP is not put back into the budget, I will be seriously considering pulling her from Warwick Schools. In the very least, I will not be having her take the NECAP test. They can record a zero for the test. She misses NO education instruction during NECAP testing. It is 2 weeks of learning nothing. My daughter needs the ALAP program to stay interested in school. For many students it is the same way. If our students are not engaged, they will lose interest in school.

Let the school committee and administration know how you feel. It is not only the right decision to make, it is the financially responsible decision to make and as one gifted and talented ALAP student student said tonight, the "forward thinking" decision to make.

Sincerely, Patrick Maloney Jr

I was wrong, the raise the WISE union received was $437,000 not $300,000. The money saved by cutting this program is not put into additional enrichment for all students as they claim, it is being used to pay for the WISE union raises that were given out at the beginning of the year.

Just 22 days after being elected, SC member Karen Bachus, without looking at the budget got together with 2 other members of the school committee and voted to give the WISE union a raise of 1 1/2%. The committee had not even had a regular meeting yet. 2 members of the school committee did not even know they were in negotiations with the WISE union as the contract was 9 months away from ending and 2 new members were just elected to the board. The WISE union supported Ms Bachus financially and this can be viewed on the Secretary of State website on her financial disclosure forms. They gave her money to run for the committee, they stood out at all the polls for her and the first things she did was give them a raise. Is this surprising to me, NO. In return for the raise the WISE union agreed to no concessions. The Raise was a total of $437K annually.

In regard to Katogni's comment...Please don't mistake my intent. I know ALAP has served many students well, and with funding it would continue to do so. My feeling is if the WPS can't provide that same service for ALL who qualify, as it does with other programs, then they should not have it at all. Heck, if the WPS is going to give the advanced learners an extra service such as ALAP, why not give the average learners free tutoring sessions as well? Plenty of families who do not have children in ALAP pay the same in taxes as you and me, yet their typical "B-C" student does not receive any extra services to help them. Extra-curricular activities in public schools are not limited by quotas..they are limited by skill and by funding. If a student does not meet the criteria to be in an activity, then they are not invited into it. With ALAP (following the cuts years ago) even if a student meets the criteria and is recommended by a teacher, they may not get into it because of limited available space. Regarding remedial services..yes they are mandated and should always be mandated. No question about it. Can an a child who is a high achiever be successful without additional services? Do children who are not in ALAP go on to be in honors classes and AP classes? Yes and Yes! Do they go to universities and colleges and on to successful careers? Yes! What the children in ALAP gain are valuable tools and they are tools that can, and should be, learned in the classroom everyday.

It is the responsibility of all teachers to reach all of the kids in the classroom. How will you make this happen? You still don't have an evaluation system. These kids will not get additional instruction. One teacher in the ALAP program brought up a good point at the meeting, when the ALAP kids are out of the classroom, the kids who are in the classroom get more focus from the teacher and answer more questions and it allows the kids to be the leaders in the classroom.

As far as reaching more children by cutting this program, there will be less children here as parents who live in Warwick will see programs being cut and will move their children to other schools. Parents of children who are looking for a place to live in RI who might have chosen Warwick will look at the car bill, tax rate and now a lack of an advanced elementary program and decide they may want to live somewhere else.

This is a smoke screen. Let's push for a voucher program for all students so kids can get the education they deserve at the school they think is right for them, charter schools for everyone.

Jackie. When the ALAP students are pulled from the classroom, all of the remaining students have a better teacher-student ratio so the B-C students ARE getting more focused learning from the teacher. Are you suggesting that all students regardless of their capabilities all be placed in the classroom? Then there should also be no self contained classrooms and all children regardless of their level should all sit in the same class. If this happens, which kids would you like the teacher to focus on? I will tell you which kids the teacher will focus on, they will focus on the ones that need the most help especially if their job depends on it. In fact, their job will depend on it as their evaluation might be tied to the NECAP testing.

I disagree that extracurricular aren't quota... Can every student who can play baseball well be on the varsity team? No. I think you are speaking of cutting off the proverbial nose to spite the face. As the previous poster said, students who do not make it into ALAP can retest and get in the next year, it is not merely a quota system it is skill based as well. Where exactly do you think that the political will and money will come from to expand this program if it is completely cut now? I personally think RI should mandate gifted education services, it is a shame that it is not! I think that the theory that the skills and the advanced learning opportunities will be given while the already stretched teachers do everything asked of them sounds nice but in reality will rarely be delivered.

If there was some sea change in mandates and special Ed was no longer mandated hypothetically would you then support cutting it entirely for every child with a learning disability if every year there were a small number of kids who while being identified as learning disabled didn't get into a program?

Throw the baby out with the bath water it seems.

Why not advocate for expansion of a program you think was great and serves a need instead of cutting it entirely...

The superintendent says, "By providing increases in professional development and classroom materials, D’Agostino believes they will be able to integrate the advanced learning components of ALAP to students directly in their regular classrooms." I will tell you now and you can go back and look at EVERY budget from the last 5 years... The first thing cut from every budget when they need money is PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT FOR THE TEACHERS". The teachers will not get the professional development he is suggesting they will get to enrich the classroom experience. Well, I should say that they are mandated to have professional development and if you remember many stories in the Warwick Beacon, the teachers show up for 1 hour of non-mandatory professional development and then they are done for the day. So, in the one hour of professional development that the teachers get, they will learn all about how to enrich their diverse classroom? Is that after the first coffee break or after the second coffee break when they leave?

Lost in both this article and the posts is the fact that the School Committee did not vote to fund the junior high librarian position. So our junior high school students will share two librarians among three schools. This is among the most stupid decisions i've ever seen the Warwick School Committee ever make and I defy them to find any other district that has done this. With all due respect to ALAP, which serves a small number of students, library effects all students. They claimed the position cost $75K.They reallocated $170K from other areas of the budget and yet the opted to not fill the position. Karen Bachus's lament about tough choices rings incredibly hollow when she turns around and abstains from voting! In my twenty years of going to these meetings, I don't think I've ever heard members abstain from voting, until the election of Ms. Bachus. It should also be noted that Teri Medeiros has also abstained from many votes over the past few months. Why on earth seek the seat if you're not prepared to make tough choices? Supposedly, the departments original plan was to have one librarian cover Aldrich and Gorton, while the Winman librarian stayed put. One could draw a conclusion that this was simply retribution to those who fought to keep Gorton open for one more year until the district developed a long term plan. Maybe. Now they're saying that 'two librarians will cover three schools'. Well, that could still mean that one librarian would cover Aldrich & Gorton and the Winman librarian stays put. While I think ALAP is a priority, having a full time librarian at each junior high is a higher one, a non-negotiable one to me. 'Roving librarians' - you just can't make it up.

If they had more computers, they could teach all the kids how to do research right in the classroom. Why shouldn't a teacher teach how to do research in the classroom? The administration spent money buying ipads (ipad I to be exact). They don't use them, they are probably still in the boxes. I know they were configured but I also know the programs they needed to run on them wouldn't run on a Generation I Ipad. At least they got it with grant money, you know, free tax money? When will the kids be getting technology in the classroom? We could give the research to the teachers to do with all of the differentiated teaching and learning they will have in the classroom now.

Maybe they are cutting to two librarians for 3 schools because they will be cutting to 2 schools soon. In the 2 years my daughter was at Aldrich, I never had her mention the library or librarian once. My wife always took her to the Warwick Public Library and she used our computer to do research. She learned all of her research skills in the ALAP program. She did NOT learn it in the classroom.

Maybe they are cutting to two librarians for 3 schools because they will be cutting to 2 schools soon. In the 2 years my daughter was at Aldrich, I never had her mention the library or librarian once. My wife always took her to the Warwick Public Library and she used our computer to do research. She learned all of her research skills in the ALAP program. She did NOT learn it in the classroom.

If a kid tries out for varsity baseball and meets the criteria for varsity baseball...he or she makes the team. No one is saying that a child who is NOT qualified to be in ALAP should be in ALAP. No..they cannot simply retest the next year and get in..there has to be a space available too. Regarding political will? You and other parents are the best advocates for your children. The reason Special Education is so heavily funded is because parents fought for it..for years and heavily advocated for their children. They continue to fight for their kids even though the resources available are better than in years past. Organize and advocate, through PTA and other advocacy groups you can voice your concerns, and demand better for your kids. Your fight should not be with me...I'm just a Mom like you. Please understand..I would love to see a program like ALAP continue...if it is available to ALL those students who qualify.

Maybe they will be closing two schools soon, who knows. My kids used the library in junior high. Pat, it sounds like your discounting the value of a librarian. One of my daughters was in ALAP and another wasn't. My ALAP daughter did not have research skills that were any better or more effective than my non-ALAP daughter.

My fight is not with you, by challenging your expressed opinion that the program should have been discontinued, by speaking at that meeting along with my daughter, by writing to school committee members and administrators I am advocating for my daughter and more globally for the appropriate education of all students. It is certainly difficult to advocate a point of view and belief if you won't engage those on a public forum who express the opposing view, it isn't about you, or my daughter, or just the ALAP program it is about appropriate education for kid's varying needs.

Sports teams are skill AND quota based. There is not room for every capable and willing student, that is why their are try outs and cuts...I haven't looked into how many students who needed gifted programs and qualified by the rubric in Warwick were denied entrance due to slots available nor do I know if that information is available, do you?

I am advocating here putting forward what I believe to be true regarding gifted education, I believe it should be mandated, I doubt I will overturn that on a state or federal level anytime soon, but will continue to advocate that even when it doesn't effect my child anymore.

I still don't understand why you think ALAP should continue under a certain set of circumstances but not as is...I certainly wouldn't fight for varsity sports to be cancelled just because there weren't enough slots for every athletically inclined child to make the cut. It either seves an actual educational need or doesn't...

It's really a shame that the lack of funding to the Warwick School system is resulting in all this finger pointing while the Mayor and City Council are let off the hook for what they have done to the school department over the last 8 years.

Take a look at the figures, try to understand where the real issue is, namely that the schools have been underfunded for years while the city has taken almost all new tax dollars collected and increased its spending.

Since 2008 the city has received over 6 times more local property tax dollars then the school systems. The facts don’t lie. Copy and paste this link into your bowser and educate yourself. Then contact the mayor and city council members in addition to the school committee members.

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

If this is true what Backus did to gain election by pandering to the WISE union than it is time to start a recall petition to get her off the school committee. Listening to her speak, she is an insult to the citizens of Warwick.

Check out the Campaign Finance records for Bachus, Karen

Copy and paste the link below.

http://www.ricampaignfinance.com/RIPublic/Filings.aspx

It was actually 18 Days after taking her seat, Bachus votes to give supporters a raise. I don't know how she did this when she had not had a full meeting yet, 2 members of the committee didn't know they were in negotiations, and she had not been through a budget cycle yet.

http://www.warwickonline.com/stories/Committee-non-teachers-agree-on-2-year-pact-extension,78762?search_filter=wise+union+raise&town_id=1&sub_type=stories

A person going by the screen name "mother22cs25" posted this on the election results webpage. http://rhodybeat.com/stories/Election-Results-2012,76495

"On 12/14/12 at 05:38 AM, mother22cs25 wrote:

Karen Bachus was elected to school committee even though she was facing felony breaking and entering charges during the election to give notice of which is required by all school committee members and candidates....she has now been charged with the that involved her destroying the belongings of a 6 month old girl!! What a great candidate for school committee!! I am disgusted that this woman who is obviously mentally unstable could be in charge of making decisions regarding our schools....and that she is also allowed to work with children at her job for dcyf when she could maliciously destroy the property of a young child!! What is our world coming to??"

I followed up on the information in this post and found the following Warwick Police Report 12-5688-OF:

Copy and paste the following link:

https://www.facebook.com/notes/patrick-maloney-jr/warwick-police-report-12-5688-of-10-26-2012-11-days-prior-to-the-election/10151197015478348

I talked to John Howell, editor of the Beacon, and emailed him about it and this was his reply in an email to me.

"Patrick I had heard something about this shortly after it occurred and asked the chief what was the story. He said they were investigating and it seemed like a dispute between the two of them. Thanks for sending this along. John"

So the Beacon knew that 11 days prior to the election Karen Bachus had been charged with Felony Breaking and Entering and Misdemeanor Vandalism and Malicious Injury to Property but decided it was something people would not want to know. The Beacon did not do a story about a person running for office that had a report about a Felony and a Misdemeanor 11 days prior to the election.

What was the outcome of Backus' felony charged.....if she was convicted she should resign immediately. Just listening to her it is easy to ascertain she is a union hack.

As an ALAP teacher for the past 14 years I would like to clarify some misconceptions and untruths.

First, unfortunately Ms. Harris-Connors has been misinformed, There has NEVER been a quota set for the number of students invited into the ALAP program. EVERY student that meets the requirements is accepted and picked up for services, regardless of the number of students currently enrolled in the program. We have even accepted Home Schooled and Private school children that met the requirements.

Second, up until four years ago ALAP WAS a broader program! The ALAP teachers went into the regular classrooms for inclusion purposes. We provided enrichment for the whole class. I personally worked in 6 - third grade classrooms as well as provided pull-out services for identified students each week. The other ALAP teachers did the same. In addition to this we all worked with classroom teachers providing materials, strategies and support for the identified ALAP AND ALSO above average learners in their classrooms. At that time the ALAP program consisted of three full time teachers servicing students in ALL the WPS elementary schools (20). Since then the ALAP staff has been cut back to 2.5 teachers with a $0 dollar budget. We were still able to be a resource for the classroom teacher but were not able to continue with inclusion.

Third, the regular classroom teacher has the benefit of support from the ENTIRE Special Education Department in each elementary school when she/he services special needs students in the regular classroom. There is no such department to support the classroom teacher of gifted special education students any longer.

Thank you Ms. Scarpellino for the additional information. I was not aware that you had a $0 Dollar Budget. If this is the case, then cutting the program would mean a savings of only the salaries of the 2.5 teachers. I am aware that you and the other ALAP teachers will be transferred to the classroom so the full savings is in the 2.5 teachers who started with Warwick most recently. As I stated above this is a savings of approximately $150,000-$180,000. How can the administration possibly say that this program costs $325, 000? How could the sitting school committee members not know or demand this information?

Good grief. I do not know why the Beacon chose my remarks to focus on, but they did. I have no influence, nor do I have anything to do with policy making in this City. If I am "misinformed" regarding ALAP being a "quota" program, then I stand corrected. However, it is the School Committee you need to convince to save the program, Ms. Scarpellino, not me. If you read my remarks, you will see I was troubled by the fact that some ADULTS on the School Committee were willing to take transportation away from young children in order to keep ALAP. The older kids already walk quite a distance each day on unsafe roadways..have you seen the kids walking down the middle of Warwick Ave. or Post Road in the winter following a storm? Younger children will have their walking distance increased, which would mean elimination of services that they need in order to be safe. Not every parent can drive their kids to school. What I didn't mention in my remarks, was that when a librarian could have been reinstated to the Gorton Junior High School, the School Committee voted not to, and the cost for the librarian was a fraction of what it would cost to save ALAP. Librarians do serve a great need at the secondary level (all levels really) and yet, we saw that position being shelved too. Sadly, it's a sign of the times and until the City Council gets their priorities straight we will continue to see valuable programs and services cut.

Shirley, it was a comment about education in general. Let's not challenge our students, let's teach to the lowest common denominator. That way we can insure grades stay up so kids can qualify for football and other necessary things.

Trying to fix our education system like this is doomed.

We are ignoring the fact that the industrial school system we have is outdated and inflexible. Instead of closing down more factories and getting rid of different products (that means closing down schools and getting rid of programs) the time has come to revamp the entire system. Restructure the entire thing from pre-K to high school.

Warwick could be at the front of that if they had bold leaders and administrators. What do we have now? Milquetoasts who do the bidding of the Unions and State Education Department.

Cut ties with the state, get back to what schools are for, educating the youth of today for the opportunities of tomorrow. Toss out the Union contract. Get rid of layers of administration. Make teachers responsible for their classes and students. Reward the teachers who do handsomely. Make a teaching job in Warwick a high level professional and esteemed position. Make it so the best and the brightest want to come to Warwick to teach.

Will this happen? I doubt it. The citizens will bemoan everything that goes on and then go press the master lever to return their masters to the gravy train.

We need an educational revolution, and why not make Warwick the spark of that revolution?

You must be logged in to post a comment. Click here to log in.
Welcome to RIjobs.com
Copyright © 2014, Beacon Communications. Powered by: Creative Circle Advertising Solutions, Inc.