October 23, 2014
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Charter school on hold
Kelcy Dolan

Hearing scheduled for this week on the proposal for the Kent County Prep charter school have been indefinitely postponed at the request of Mayor Scott Avedisian.

Last Thursday Avedisian asked for the meetings to be postponed until revisions were made to the original proposal. West Warwick, one of the three municipalities the charter school would draw their enrollment from, dropped out of the plan.

“The original proposal included three communities so when West Warwick decided they could not participate I made the decision that it dramatically changed the proposal and that we should not move forward,” Avedisian said in an email.

Without West Warwick’s participation the needed enrollment and subsequent funding would be a burden upon the other two cities.

Avedisian explained in an email that, “the Town of West Warwick had reached agreement with the state on a 5 year plan for finances. Any change in municipal money or school money would put them out of compliance with that agreement.”

Town Manager of West Warwick, Tom Presley, could not be reached for comment.

David Gosselin, Town Council President of West Warwick, said the council was concerned they were never involved in the conversations about the proposed mayoral academy.

“Mayor Avedisian has not reached out or spoken to the town council whatsoever on the subject,” Gosselin said. “We were only contacted by Tomas Hoover, the town manager of Coventry about possible locations and that was over a year ago.”

On Thursday the town council announced West Warwick would no longer be participating in the Kent County Prep proposal.

Hoover, said he hopes that a revised proposal will be submitted and Kent County Prep can move forward with their plans.

The proposed building for the charter school was the Coventry Town Hall’s annex. It needed some repair and the town had just begun to discuss the agreement for use of the building.

“ The majority of the town council favors the charter school and would like to still see it opened on its proposed date for the fall of 2015. I don’t know if this will set back that opening or not, but we will be working with Rhode Island Mayoral Academies on their schedule,” Hoover said.

Katelyn Silva, the chief of communications officer for Rhode Island Mayoral Academies, said a new proposal will be submitted, but this will distinguish the charter school with statewide enrollment and not simply the three municipalities previously discussed to minimize the financial burden on the three cities.

“We are taking this slowly,” Silva said. “We want to act accordingly and respectfully to all the communities involved. We are committed to our proposal though. We are going to take the time to get it right so everyone feels comfortable moving forward.”

Warwick Superintendent Richard D’Agostino believes the postponed hearing is a step in the right direction.

“Mayoral Academies have their place in under performing school districts, but we are not an under performing district. On the contrary we have a high performing system. The mayoral academy would just be a drain on the public schools funding and resulted in even more of a struggle for the school budget.”

Last week D’Agostino said when fully operational at more than 500 students, Warwick would lose $1.8 million in state funding that would go for the tuition payments of Warwick students in the school. The Warwick School Committee also passed a resolution opposing the proposed charter school.

The hearings had been slated for June 16th and 18th.


Comments
1 comment on this item

The fact that the money follows the students under the charter proposal makes a great deal of sense. Why should Warwick receive state payments for students who are not attending it's traditional public schools? Warwick spends well north of $16k per high school student. I've had it with the never ending 'poor us' coming from the school dept.

On another matter, Mr. D'Agostino says: "...we have a high performing system." When is the last time you were out socially with friends not from Warwick, and someone said: "I'd love to move to Warwick so my kids could go to Vets."

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