To the Editor:
I have been a resident of Warwick for over 15 years. My wife Susanne is a lifelong resident and a graduate of Warwick Vets High School. As a participant of the Long Term Facilities Planning Committee, I was not pleased with the way data was presented Thursday evening (May 2) at the School Committee’s Public Hearing about closing a junior high school.
To present data from the current school year when the data from the next school year, 2013-2014, paints an entirely different picture, is not fair to parents, students and teachers – the public. There is an expected 66-student increase to Gorton’s enrollment next year, a nine-student increase to Aldrich and a three-student reduction at Winman.
(The data as presented to the planning committee is shown above.)
Students with an Individual Educational Plan (IEP) are weighted as 1.5.
To reverse the comment made by Mr. Dennis Mullen during the hearing – Why does Winman have more teachers for five teams than Aldrich and Gorton? Winman has more teachers per non-weighted students than Aldrich and Gorton. This statement being as unfair, as the team comparison statement made during the hearing.
There is still considerable unknown data. To recommend any school closed at this point is premature.
To state that national school districts are moving away from middle school modes is false when middle schools have been the norm in other states since I entered junior high school in 1971. The fact is; out of the 35 school districts in the state of Rhode Island, Warwick is one of five without a middle school model.
According to the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) website on NECAP scores, only 31 percent of Warwick’s 11th grade students are proficient in math and science. Moving to a middle school model and providing math and science instruction from certified instructors would help put Warwick students on a level field with other districts.
On Feb. 27, Mr. Anthony Ferrucci presented the expected savings if Gorton Junior High School is closed. As presented, there would be 12 teaching staff positions eliminated and eight support staff, for a cost reduction of $1,385,000 and a total savings of only $1,008,000 considering other data. Effectively, the cost savings come from staff reductions. The other data presented that afternoon did not support the reduction of 12 positions, so I believe Mr. Ferrucci was not provided the correct information. To date, the reports presented and the other supporting documentation from the Short Term Planning Committee meetings have not been posted on the Warwick School Department’s website.
To claim that it is imperative to close a junior high school due to budget issues and then request funding for nine new administration positions during the April 10 School Committee meeting is an absolute insult to the public.
Furthermore, to read in a Warwick Beacon article on Tuesday, April 30, with a quote from School Committee member Ms. Terry Medeiros, that she has received more communications from parents to close Gorton Junior High School is disconcerting and surreal. Most parents have been e-mailing all School Committee members the same communication. Another School Committee member stated they had received over 130 communications without one request to close any junior high school. Ms. Medeiros was elected to represent the Warwick Vets/Gorton area. So there is no confusion, I encourage all parents to e-mail Ms. Medeiros their position again with all School Committee members on copy. She needs to start listening to her constituents.
Edward F. Racca