To the Editor:
Rather than voting for the current plan which would negatively affect all of the students in the City of Warwick for the next school year and beyond, the Long Term Planning Committee and School Committee should consider other options. These kids love their school and we should work together to find the best possible solution to declining enrollment by thinking things through thoroughly and coming up with all possible options.
Instead of their “five-year plan,” how about a well thought out three-year plan?
Here is one proposal:
Keep Warwick Veterans Memorial High School open long enough for every student currently enrolled to graduate from Vets. This would mean three years from now the current freshmen would be graduating. Therefore, next year, the school would have only sophomores, juniors and seniors. In the 2015-2016 school year, there would only be juniors and seniors attending at Vets. Finally, in 2017, the last class would graduate from Vets. Over the next three years as the school is emptying out, several wings could be closed and renovations could begin to turn Vets into a large junior high school.
While no plan will be perfect for everyone, this plan would negatively affect the fewest number of students. It offers the opportunity to see the changes take place gradually, rather than abruptly, and allows time for addressing any unforeseen issues that may arise.
As for the 8th grade students currently at Gorton and Aldrich, they could be sent to Pilgrim and Toll Gate as suggested in the current five-year plan. This would allow for a gradual increase in students and traffic at those schools. The incoming freshmen would be like all the other freshmen at those schools, rather than feeling like or being treated like outsiders by the other students of Pilgrim and Toll Gate. High school students become a family, and it is important for all students to feel like they are part of the family. This integration beginning with freshman students is vital to the success of all students.
Of course, as with any plan, there will be issues to work out, but consideration of this and other plans is certainly worth the time and effort by everyone involved.
My wish is that the individuals in charge of making such important decisions about our children take the time needed to adequately and impartially explore all possible solutions to the problem of declining enrollment.
Donna A. Costa