September 22, 2014
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Schools need to make cuts, but it won’t be Gorton yet
Warwick Beacon
ANXIOUS WAIT: The faces of those attending Tuesday’s School Committee meeting reflect the concern over the possible closure of Gorton.

The hundreds that packed the Toll Gate auditorium Tuesday night to learn the fate of Gorton Junior High School stood up and cheered following the 4-1 approval of a motion to table the vote on school closure until January 2014.

Karen Bachus made the motion to delay the vote and reconvene the Long Term Facilities Planning Committee to determine the best way to move the district forward and present three viable plans, not one, to the School Committee at its January 2014 meeting.

“We have one chance to do this right. I don’t believe we should close any school until we know where we’re going in the future,” she said.

The recommendation to close Gorton and send those students to Aldrich and Winman came in response to declining enrollments and that all three schools are at 50 percent of occupancy or less. Closing Gorton would have saved a projected $1.2 million in operating costs.

The morning following the vote, teachers carrying heart-shaped signs reading “thank you” greeted parents dropping their children off to school and the arrival of school buses. The mood of teachers was upbeat, although they pointed out there are no guarantees about next year.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Bachus said the three viable plans should take into account all-day kindergarten, Kindergarten through eighth grade, and the middle school model of sixth through eighth grade. She said the final plan would likely include closing schools next year.

“This coming year will be hell; don’t think this is a positive thing. We’ll have to tighten our belts, but we’ll get by,” she cautioned. “But we need a solid plan to move the district forward and provide the best education possible for the students. I believe this will eventually make us a better school district in the future.”

Committee member Jennifer Ahearn said she agrees the district needs to be taken to the next level.

“But I don’t agree we’re being responsible by approving a budget for next year with a $3.8 million overage,” she said. “That has to be looked at because we don’t know what programs will be sacrificed to keep schools open. Educational sacrifices will be made if this is tabled; I want to make sure everyone is on board with that.”

Following her comments, Ahearn made a motion to table the vote until after the City Council approves a city budget and the schools know how much money they’ll be receiving.

Seconding Ahearn’s motion, Eugene Nadeau suggested tabling the vote until June 30.

“We currently get $118 million a year [from the city]. I hope [the City Council] would look kindly to keep Gorton open,” he said. “I don’t want Gorton to close; I want it to stay open this year and the years following when it becomes a middle school.”

Nadeau said the time has come to make kindergarten all-day and unite the sixth grade with the seventh and eighth grades, thus creating three middle schools.

“We need to prepare for when the Common Core standards come in to replace the NECAP test,” he said. “Those moves are coming down the pike. Eighty-three percent of the country and 90 percent of Rhode Island uses the middle school model; the time has come.”

Rosemary Healey, school director of human resources and legal counsel, explained that June 30 isn’t doable because of contract deadlines.

“We need to send transfer notices by June 14, with a job fair no later than June 30, so that takes it too far into the year,” she said. “In order to satisfy contract obligations, we would need to know by June 7.”

Bachus said the committee couldn’t afford to wait until the City Council makes a decision.

“We owe it to the entire city, the students and the teachers to let them know where they will be before June 30,” she said.

Ahearn said she believes it’s irresponsible to make a decision without knowing what the educational ramifications are going forward.

“There are a lot of students out there that are not in the audience tonight, and any programs that have to be let go will affect them,” she said.

Nadeau and Ahearn ultimately withdrew their amendments to Bachus’ motion.

School Committee Chairwoman Bethany Furtado was the only dissenting vote against the motion to table. She opened her remarks by thanking everyone who spoke at the public forums about what Gorton means to them before explaining why she thinks consolidation needs to happen going forward.

“We can’t continue the way we are; we need to consolidate and move forward to provide the highest [level] of education possible,” she said. “This is not all about the money, but about providing the best possible education that my students are entitled to, which is the best and brightest teaching them every day and providing the items they need to accomplish their goals.”

Furtado said it was important to remember how the district arrived at its current state.

“It’s important to look at what has brought us to where we are now and the draconian cuts needed to balance a level funded budget, which was reduced by $5 million three years ago and has been level funded since,” she said. “We’ve been asked to do far more with far less.”

Furtado said the committee has had to make difficult decisions, such as reducing administrative staff, eliminating an entire WISE [Warwick Independent School Employees] department and closing elementary schools.

“I’m the only member on this committee that was on the committee when we voted to close four elementary schools, which had not happened in 30 years. The secondary schools have not been touched since Lockwood was closed in the ’70s,” she said. “There’s a continual decline in population, and a decline of 1,000 is projected over the next decade – that’s the population of a current high school. We need to address the issue now and not ignore the situation. The committee must move forward and the solution is through consolidation.”

Furtado said if Gorton was closed, schools would still have to look at cutting $2.5 million from the budget going forward, which would affect all students, since all indications are that schools will not receive the $3.8 million increase requested from the city. If Gorton stays open, the committee has to look at $3.8 million in cuts, which will “affect everyone in every classroom.”

While Furtado was speaking, some in the audience yelled that cuts should come in administration instead of programs, which Bachus didn’t take kindly to.

“Over the past weeks, I’ve witnessed folks beat up our administration. Every administrator is doing two to three jobs and they’re not getting two to three salaries,” she said. “They work really hard and I respect the numbers that were brought to us. I did not make my proposal based on the numbers, but it was based on the need for a long-term plan to give us the best school district in the state.”

Prior to the vote, Ahearn echoed Furtado’s comments regarding cuts.

“A long-term plan will require lots of concessions by our staff, the City Council and our union membership for this district. It’s important to make sure we’re all on the same page as to the direction the district will go,” she said.

Darlene Netcoh, Toll Gate English teacher and department head, thanked the committee for holding open meetings and listening to the people.

“Thanks for proving the vote wasn’t set ahead of time,” she said. “You listened to the people that spoke and made a decision based on what they said and not what the administration wanted.”

Netcoh also suggested when the Long Term Facilities Planning Committee reconvenes that the Short Term Facilities Planning Committee joins them, “so all voices can be heard going forward.”

David Testa, a parent of three in Warwick schools, said it’s the School Committee’s job to fight to make sure the city doesn’t level fund the schools.

“You’re here to represent all the people that were here tonight, not the administration. Your job is to advocate for the students to get the best education possible,” he said. “City Council members that said they don’t want to close Gorton; we’ll see where the rubber meets the road when it comes time to determine the money for schools.”

Ward 3 Councilwoman Camille Vella-Wilkinson, one of four council members in attendance, said Warwick needs to look at how to tighten the amount of administrative positions between the city and schools.

“Why do we have two purchasing departments, why do we have two MIS departments, why do we have two maintenance departments between the school district and the city? We need to look at combining those departments to provide additional funding to go into the classrooms,” she said. “When I hear that teachers are providing supplies for students and students are bringing in reams of paper so the teachers aren’t totally broke, that infuriates me.”

Vella-Wilkinson said the City Council doesn’t set the budget, but rather ratifies the budget that is set by the mayor.

“I voted, with Councilman Solomon, for a $325,000 windfall to go to the schools, and I have no problem doing that if it goes to the teachers and students in the classroom, and not to administrators, assistant administrators and deans of administration,” she said.

Ed Turner said he was glad to see the vote.

“I think people are OK with closing a school if it’s done in a responsible manner with proper planning,” he said.


Comments
17 comments on this item

Facts: 1) Warwick's population has declined;it may soon become RI's third largest city based on population.

2) Warwick's overall student population has & is continuing to decline/regardless if all day kindergarten is implemented or if a middle school model is used, this is not going to change

3) Warwick has too many buildings to manage, which results as part of the cost/expense problem; it is very likely a junior high AND a high school will need to be closed in the future. It is better if these decisions are made/planned for NOW so that sacrifices such as elimination of middle school sports and other after school programs will not have to be made later.

The present Warwick School structure is based on a model with twice as many students(even though several elementary schools have been eliminated/used for alternative purposes); to provide the current level of educational offerings in the future - School Administration positions at all levels need to be reduced; teaching positions & school staff need to be reduced;and transportation needs to be addressed.

Councilwoman Vella-Wilkinson-you appropriate money to the schools; you can't tell them where to spend or not spend amounts.

David Testa- it is not the School Committee's JOB to make sure that Warwick Schools AREN'T LEVEL funded;they prepare a budget proposal to the City Council/Mayor. The City Council/Mayor will review/decide what they believe is adequate funding(whether it's level funded or an increase).

I personally believe they have adequate funding already-level fund next budget year(NO WAY should the School System be given a $3.8 million increase).

Ed Turner-I agree that closing a junior high school was done too hastily during this school year. However, I believe that based on available data, Warwick will need to make reductions(including closing of schools) if it will continue to provide the same educational programs within the next two school years. The Long Term/Short Term Planning Committees/School Committee/Warwick Teachers,Staff,Parents,& Students should accept that fact & plan accordingly.

So if I have the chronology correct, a "Long Term Planning Committee" was put together. It convened for months and finally made it's recommendation. That recommenadation was endorsed by the superintendent. Result: Let's have another go-round of a "Long Term Planning Committee". This is priceless. Only in RI, and certainly only in the public sector. "Close a school...keep it open...middle school model...junior high model...all-day kindergarten..." This is little more than a rearrangement of deck chairs with fewer and fewer passengers. The bottom line is this: A junior high school must and will close. A high school must and will close. Get used to it, people. Warwick has one half the number of students it did fourty years ago. "...teachers carrying heart-shaped signs..." who wish to be treated as respected professionals. Good Lord. And people wonder why families with a vested interest in their childrens' education are not moving to Warwick?

Stop the insanity and you will fix the problem. The focus of your attention should be towards the Mayor and the City Council. They are the ones grandstanding in front of the cameras and their constituents, but when it comes time to actually fund the schools they can be found cowering in the corner. If you want to correct the problems you need to start at the source, and that is the Mayor and City Council. They continue to get a pass from the public. Every year taxes continue to go up, but the schools are level funded. The City budget continues to grow but the schools are told to continue cutting. Whenever the Mayor or Council is questioned about why the schools do not get an increase in funding, their response is school enrollment is down. Question, if the enrollment in schools is down, then wouldn't that mean the general population is decreasing as well? Using their own logic, the City should be level funded every year as well, right?

The Mayors total proposed budget is $238 million, $157 million going to the schools and $81 million to the City. All of the Mayors $3.6 million tax increase is going to the City side of the budget. That means city spending is budgeted to increase 4.65% for the coming fiscal year. Increasing expenses 4.65% is not my idea of fiscal responsibility. The Mayor plans to increase his spending 4.65% but tells the schools, spend the same as last year. The Mayor and Council have done this for several years now and have not been held accountable for it.

This is by no means an endorsement of the manner by which the School Committee or Administration has conducted itself either. There should have been a long term plan put in place several years ago, mapping out the direction of the school system. Rather than their current approach, which is akin to trying to rearrange the deck chairs after the ship has already hit the ice berg.

The real question we should be asking is why have we seen a steady decline in enrollment over the last twenty years. Where did all the students go, why are there no new ones coming? If a private sector company had increased costs and declining sales for twenty years would the CEO still have a job? Of course not. But the Mayor, Council and School Committee have consistently increased taxes and spending while watching the population decline for twenty years, yet they continue to get reelected. Continuing to elect the same people over and over again and expecting to the results to be different is the definition of insanity.

Markyc,

Im fully aware of what the respective roles of the school committee and city council are. The school committees job is to prepare a budget that meets the educational needs of the schools/students (and most of us know that no budget is carved in stone). The city bases it allocation based on their own assumptions. You acknowledge that there should be a plan on school closing s but this decision was not part of any plan. I'm amazed that some just can't see what the point is here. Enrollment is declining, no one disputes that but the issue is how do we deal with that. Mist reasoable people know that schools have to close but the question is how do we go about it. I'll say it again, going to a middle school model better utilizes the three junior highs for the next 7-8 years. Elementary capacity is then reduced and consolidation can be had there. Closing an elementary saves roughly the same $ as closing a junior. I think you can close an elementary can close and there'd still be room for all day K. Once that's done, you turn to the high schools and the CTC. CTC should be expanded to include more Warwick kids and out of district kids (who pay

tuition to attend). By the way, we,re losing approximately 1000 kid every decade so if yo lose 100 kids this year they're spread out throughout the district, from a buildings perspective, you can't do too much the next year. That doesn't automatically mean that you spend less next year. If that we're true, the city side of the budget wouldn't have doubled over the last decade when we've lost over 3000 people.

John, you don't have the chronology right. A short term committee was formed from the full committee and they voted to look at junior highs because that's what admin felt was the best area was to look at. We voted to do that based on the info presented to us initially. After meeting and asking questions and gathering more data (independently in some cases) some members saw flaws in this approach and saw the ripple effects of closing a junior high and asked for the process to be slowed down so other options could be explored. The short term committee consisted of 7 members who worked in, or for, Admin and three parents so you don't have to be a Mensa member to see how the vote would go. Once the short term committee met, their decision went before the full facilities planning committee where it passed 8-7. In case you didn't know, had that vote gone 8-7 against closing, Administration was still going present the short term committee's decision to the school committee. You beginning to see a pattern here? Like you, I work in the private sector but I would not propose eliminating an asset unless it was done so as part of a long term plan. That's the issue here, NOT wanting to keep schools open. What Admin presented at the public hearings was the Strategic Vision of the district. Your a smart guy - that's not the same as a long term plan. Yes, schools have to close, I don't dispute that but you don't shoot from the hip to do it. Developing a plan isn't rocket science. grades K-8 can be done at once and thn you turn to the high schools. And, you revisit the plan every x number of years based on the enrollment data. Lastly, I'd point out that none of the data provided to Administration regarding elementary and junior high capacities in the middle school model as well as data that disputed the actual number of staff reduced by closing Gorton, was refuted by Admin.

I understand about short term and long term committees and what they are trying to accomplish but nothing is more short term than the Mayors budget just sent to the city council. There is a raise in taxes again with no increase to schools. The budget proposed for approval within the next month will require extremely short term planning. If passed in its current form will require the school committee to cut $3.8 Million from the budget. This will mean draconian cuts to which this city has not seen.

Where will schools find $3.8 Million in cuts. Which of your child's programs do you want cut? Any of them? All of them? Contact your city council person and attend the city council budget hearings. Let them hear your voice.

Does Warwick need a tax increase to provide a small increase in funding to the schools? No, the city has raised taxes every year for 24 years and has additional revenue amounting to a yearly increase of $30 Million annually over the last 4 years. They have enough money, it just isn't going into education. It is paying for benefits and pensions of city employees. After 24 years of tax increases, when does it stop, when will they have enough of your money? The roads are in poor condition, property values are still down and the schools, our greatest asset for attracting families will have nothing to offer after these cuts. Warwick Schools will provide nothing more than the Basic Education Plan (BEP) set by the RIDE (RI Dept of Ed). This basic plan will be just that, nothing but the basics. At a time when we should be reaching higher and trying to attract families to broaden the tax base and stabilize we will be telling people, actually screaming at them to STAY AWAY! This is not what Warwick needs and there is a way to stop the insanity.

Here is a link to the city council emails and phone numbers. Contact your council person today.

http://www.warwickri.gov/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=797&Itemid=237

this school should have been closed this would have saved tax payers thousands

Hundreds of Thousands this year at a minimum and certainly millions as the years progressed. The savings is not necessarily in the costs of maintaining the building but also in the salaries of the staff that would not be necessary through consolidation. If 10-15 people were to be let go through consolidation and the average salary with benefits is between $65K - 100K, the savings would be between $650K - $1.5 Million annually. The cost of maintaining the building would be on top of the salary savings. If the cost to maintain the building is 350K - 500K then the savings could be between $1 million and $2 Million annually. How do people not see this? Close a building and students get the same education in a different building, keep a building open and cuts to programs need to be made.

No one disagrees that you'd save money by closing a building. In Gortons case we were told the figure was a hair under $1.1 million net, with $875K coming from personnel reductions and the rest from the operational cost of maintaining the building. (80-85% of all school budgets state-wide & nationally arevsalaries and benefits, its the nature of the beast) The staff reduction figure was called into question when a committee member took a calculator to the figures provided to them of how many teachers would be needed @ aldrich and found them to be three short, thus reducing the actual staff reductions by three, thus impacting the net savings but approximately $300k. That same member found other personnel discrepancies that further called into question the actual number of positions reduced. (The average dollar value per teacher assumed was approx $100K in salary $ benefits because we do not have many low- step teachers.) The arguments by some on this issue are all over the map but the point is this. People scream that schools and municipal services should be run efficiently - like the private sector. In my view, the decision to close Gorton (an organizational asset) without first having developed a long term plan from which the best use of those assets would be determined is backwards. I'd pose this to you. If Goron closed next year and then the state mandated all day K, many, if not most, of the same critics here woul take to ther keyboards railing about how short-sighted it was to close Gorton because now we can't move the 6th graders anywhere to accommodate all day K. This school committee is publicly asking admin to come up with a long term plan for the district before they make any decisions to close any more buildings. I don't recall past school committees calling for this publicly. We closed three elementary in one fell swoop and another one a year later because of declining enrollment. All were necessary, in my opinion, but now we're at the point where we need to smarter in how we go about things in light of new curriculum, a true middle discussion, and the inevitable coming of all day K, none of which were on the table before.

Dave, the State will not be switching all day K in the next 3 years. Of the 39 cities and towns, only 3 provide all day K as of last year. This would require the other 36 to implement it with no funding. This would decimate every budget in every town. It is not happening anytime soon. If they mandate all day K, 36 cities and towns should throw in the towel and declare bankruptcy.

As far as sitting school committee members coming up with their own numbers at the table, I don't trust that any members have the ability to analyze the numbers properly except Beth Furtado. We were sending lay-off notices in March to teachers that have been with the schools going back to the early 2000s. So most teachers getting lay off notices have at least 10-12 years experience, this also puts them to at least step 8-10 and in the upper 60K to mid 70K range with family benefits, master's degree, maybe 90K+. We would also reduce the salary of principal at the school 100K, support staff, custodial, etc. The school committee asked for a long term plan in 2009, the previous superintendent did not provide one which is, personally, one of the reasons I voted not to renew him in 2010 and again in 2012. I am glad the current superintendent is not following in his predecessor's footsteps.

Pat, there are about 15 districts that currently have all day K according to RI Kidscount 2012 fact book. I'm not so sure that it won't be in three years nor am I so sure that it would completely unfunded. The committee members I referred to were not school committee members- they were members of the long & short term committees - parent members to be specific.. And to be frank, Beth's comments last Tuesday did not mention anything about other options to closing Gorton, did not attempt to refute any arguments brought forward in opposition to closing. It was essentially what the long term committee was told at the beginning of their meetings. It was a 'fait accompli' argument. So help me understand. They knew they'd have a funding issue this coming year and they wanted to close a building to make ends meet. They convene a long term committee to look at that issue. Long term committee votes to look at junior highs. A disagreement arises and many members of the full committee feel that closing a JH is not the way to go and put forward what I think are good arguments about the future of the district and how closing a JH could impact that. But, Beth and Admin say, 'nope, we gotta go ahead and close Gorton'. Honsetly, this slave/master mindset that these people have with respect to relationship between the schools and the city is mind-boggling. Closing Gorton, which the current superintendent wants to do, without having a long term plan is no different than what the previous superintendent did.

One minor correction to an earlier post. The short term committee consisted of six members who worked in or for administration, the Mayors chief of staff, and three members of the public

On 5/17/13 at 04:06 AM, Pmaloneyjr wrote:” At a time when we should be reaching higher and trying to attract families to broaden the tax base and stabilize we will be telling people, actually screaming at them to STAY AWAY!” yet then he responded with “. . . the State will not be switching all day K in the next 3 years. Of the 39 cities and towns, only 3 provide all day K as of last year . . .” Personally, I believe offering all-day kindergarten to potential home buyers would be a great way to entice families to move to our city. It does not necessarily mean that staff costs will skyrocket, unless we don’t take the time to plan how to utilize the existing staff effectively and efficiently. If we keep doing what we have always done we will keep getting the same results; less new families, lower market values, fewer taxpayers, higher taxes. . .

Speaking of efficiency . . . why do we only focus on buildings used for educational instruction what about the other Warwick Public Schools’ buildings? Why has a plan not been considered to move administrators into our existing student buildings? If there is extra space there and we are already paying the costs associated with these buildings then shutting down a building such as the Central Administrative Building on Warwick Avenue could result in immediate savings. In addition, Mr. Mullen stated that he had a “wish list” of nine additional administrators of which several would act as “dean of students” to help existing principals in the evaluation process. Existing staff could be better utilized if they were already in the buildings and no additional staffing would be required.

Finally, as a taxpayer, I would like to encourage everyone to contact the Warwick School Committee and demand that the majority of members that sit on these various committees be Warwick taxpayers. Please ask them to publically list that information as well. I want to ensure that when members vote, that they have a vested interest in our community, not keeping their jobs.

MyRhody, that is a great idea, but will new families come to Warwick knowing there have been tax increases every year for the last 24 years and will they be willing to foot the bill for all day K to the tune of an additional nearly 3+ Million for all day K? Only time will tell. I agree that everyone should contact their SC members and the city council.

All of the writers on this topic are more informed/knowledgeable than myself on this topic. I apologize to David Testa for inferring that he didn't know the job of the Warwick School Committee.

In my opinion, there should only be one committee-the Long Term Planning Committee. it appears, whether required or not, that Warwick will implement all day kindergarten-Ok; so the committee should plan accordingly(if you delay cuts, don't expect additional money). This seems to indicate that all three junior high schools will be needed to provide more space/flexibility for grades K-8. Using that assumption, the Long Term Committee should accept the fact that a Senior High School WILL LIKELY need to be closed-STOP DELAYING WHICH SECONDARY SCHOOL(S) will close-accept that fact/need & plan accordingly.if only a high school is closed, I believe other significant cuts will be required(the Warwick School Committee/Administration appears to be planning/waiting for a big bag of money to fall from the sky or some kind of change in the school funding formula that will make all their problems go away, but don't bet on it). Personally, I don't believe that all day kindergarten, by itself, will make Warwick more attractive to families resulting in increased student enrollment(not with airport expansion & annual tax increases). If the forthcoming school year budget reflects a $3.8 million overage, CUTS are needed. If the Warwick City Council determines a small increase in funding;OK, but an additional $3.8 million is NOT acceptable.

I have little or NO CONFIDENCE in the Warwick School Committee:

1) Prior Superindent situation clouded in secrecy behing closed doors.

2) School Finance Director earlier in current year indicated a projected surplus; School Committee indicated planned raises for teachers/staff/administrators would be paid for from reserves & surpius-NOW the School Committee requests additional $3.8 million indicating there are no longer any reserves-what happened?

3) Gorton vs. Aldrich closing study/proposal-this seemed to come at the eleventh hour; & now the School Budget request wants funds for nine additional administrators & MORE FUNDING?

The above scenario looks bad to Warwick non-residents looking for a desirable school district-based on above alone, why move here?

Student enrollment in Warwick is deciining/projected to continue to decline; NO NEW ADMINISTRATORS OR STAFF; plan on where LIMITED tax dollars will be spent before you're forced to cut items/offerings you don't want to cut(just look at Cranston).

MyRhody, what is making people stay away from Warwick and RI is the lack of effective leadership and ineffective decision making. We are currently studying the bankruptcy of 38 Studios and a moral obligation to pay. Do people want to move to a state where they may be flushing $129 Million down the toilet to honor a moral obligation? The people tempted to move here must know they will be the ones to pay for it. They are also discussing throwing Millions in to the Superman building. This does not sound like a super idea to me. The people who bought it knew what they were getting themselves into, why should taxpayers have to bail them out?

I want to be clear, I didn't say going to all day K wasn't a good idea, in fact, it should have been done for all 39 cities and towns 10+ years ago when we had money to pay for it. Instead of investing in education, cities and towns all over the state made bad contracts costing taxpayers billions in the state and we are now at the point of going bankrupt. I agree that moving to all day K would attract potential residents, not at the cost of going bankrupt. mandating all day K does mean skyrocketing costs, the projections have already been done and it was reported here within the last year. Implementing it in Warwick would be a multimillion dollar investment alone and the maximum tax rate would not be enough to pay for it... that is if the schools received the full maximum tax increase currently allowed by state law, a tax increase the schools would see none of as evidenced historically over the last 4-5 years. The city raises the tax rate to the max each year and all of the increases go to the city side of the budget. (To be fair, one year they chose not to take the maximum but that is because they raised so much through lowering the car tax exemption. In the end, they got the same amount through 2 different taxes).

I stand by my statement earlier, "At a time when we should be reaching higher and trying to attract families to broaden the tax base and stabilize we will be telling people, actually screaming at them to STAY AWAY!” and also my statement regarding all day K, the state doesn't have the funds to support it. Only a few cities and towns offer all day K.

Regarding shutting down the administration building on Warwick Ave, I pushed to have the building vacated and closed several times without support from the other members of the school committee who were told by administration it could not happen without a huge cost. Much of the cost was due to IT being in the building and the lack of electrical infrastructure in other buildings. I even suggested they separate the departments into several different buildings and use technology to communicate. Administration told the SC that this plan would not work because they communicate constantly and needed to be together. I disagree and believe the building could be vacated and returned to the city.

I agree with you whole heartedly that the public must let them know how they feel and it should be about education for the community not about keeping jobs. The decisions should be made without emotion and the most logical decision with the correct information should be made.

Markyc, regarding #1 on your list, I would like to remind you that I was not on the committee when he was hired, it was prior to my arrival. One of the reasons I ran was because the school committee lead by the superintendent and the finance director had 2 consecutive years of deficits. (during my 4 years on the committee, there were no deficits, any surplus was used to pay back the prior deficits.) I did not vote for renew the previous superintendent in 2010 and was overridden by 3 other members who thought he did a good job and deserved a renewal. I publicly, disagreed but was outvoted. I did not believe he (or anyone) deserved anything without a proper review and a clear vision for the schools. I believe that he did not present a clear vision, he did not guide the short term committee or guide the long term committee that was re-instituted under his watch. He was clearly directed by the school committee to reform these committees and report back to the school committee. He did not do this. I did not vote to renew him in 2012. During my time there I wanted a superintendent with a clear vision for the schools and someone who could effectively lead us to that vision. He was clearly not that person to me and that is why I voted to non-renew him.

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