It couldn’t have been better weather for the first day of school yesterday, except, of course, if you went to the beach. Then it was a great beach day.
Some Warwick students may have legitimately been at the beach. Classes for eighth graders and high school sophomores, juniors and seniors started today.
As best could be determined, the opening of schools went smoothly.
Principals new to the system – at Oakland Beach and John Brown Francis Schools – settled into their roles meeting parents and students. And several administrators, who over the last two years were on special assignment with the Rhode Island Department of Education, were back either in new posts or ones they had left temporarily. Fire code improvements made over the summer were completed. Buildings were operational and all systems were “go.”
It’s still too early to know precise school enrollment, but the numbers are expected to dip from last year’s total as the system continues to experience a decline in the school age population. Nonetheless, the School Committee decided not to take any action this academic year, choosing to leave Gorton Junior High School open and charging the long-term facilities planning committee to come up with a comprehensive plan for secondary school by early next year.
The committee has already held several meetings and will meet again this afternoon. The group is in agreement that consolidation – another word for school closure – needs to happen and is exploring the options. Those options include not only the reshaping of the city’s three secondary school districts, each with a junior and senior high school, but also the makeup of schools. Conceivably, junior highs could be converted to middle schools that would incorporate sixth grade, which would free elementary school classrooms for all-day kindergarten.
There are a lot of potential changes on the horizon.
But for this year, it would seem it’s back to school again as usual. It may be the last year for one or more of the city’s junior high schools and quite possibly a senior high.
Such changes won’t be made easily or without heated debate.
So, enjoy the virtually non-eventful start to school this year. It may be the last for some time to come.