Schools ready for first day

Posted

Despite a tumultuous summer that has yet to result in a new contract for teachers, it has been reported that the first day of school for public school students in Warwick will go on as planned today and tomorrow.

Across the city, crews were finishing up final touches and readying buildings for the arrival of students, and nowhere was the progress from summer construction more apparent than at Warwick Vets.

Ten days ago, according to reports, classrooms and the corridors of Veterans Memorial Junior High School looked like a bomb had gone off. Ceiling tiles were missing, ladders impeded passage, light fixtures and air vents were hanging down and the dust of construction was everywhere.

On Thursday, however, the floors were shining, the hallways bright with new LED lighting and, with the exception of an area cordoned off as the elevator was tested and boxes piled around the counter at the front office, the school looked ready for classes to start today. What’s more, as the case at schools throughout the district, the teachers were there to meet and go over plans and procedures for the upcoming academic year.

Of all the summer school renovation and construction projects, Vets is the largest at $8.6 million, with the most costly element being the replacement of the steam boiler heating system with a natural gas fired roof top heating and air conditioning system requiring extensive interior duct work and 70 roof-top units. While the HVAC system is ahead of schedule, the work is not projected to be fully completed until next year.

Kevin Oliver, supervisor of the school buildings’ personnel, said the entire 30-member staff concentrated their efforts in readying Vets for the opening of school. They washed the walls, cleaned the windows and stripped and waxed the floors of the 200,000-square-foot building. The building had a new car smell, although it is of 1950 vintage.

Even though the HVAC is partially completed, Oliver notices the difference.

“There’s better air quality, more fresh air,” he said.

Vets’ Principal David Tober said the plan calls for crews to continue working in two classrooms at a time after school and into the evening hours. The schedule is expected to require the relocation of some classes during the process. He projected an enrollment of 863 students, which will jump to 1,200 students next year when Vets and Winman are transitioned to middle schools including grades 6 to 8. As junior high schools they are made up of grades 7 and 8.

Elsewhere in the district, work assessed at $14,500 was completed on a portion of roof that had collapsed due to water damage at Holliman Elementary School. Holliman also had new fire alarms installed, but they won’t be operational for a couple of weeks, so the Warwick Fire Department will be on watch at the building during school hours and any after school activities until they are switched on.

Norwood Elementary also had new fire alarm panels installed, but the system is operational and functioning properly, so the fire department will not need to watch the school while corresponding fire alarm devices are updated.

The new Tides Café addition to the Career and Tech Center, located to the rear of Toll Gate High School, is on pace to be finished at the end of November and had a concrete slab for its inner flooring poured last Tuesday.

The Gorton Administration building needs some “odds and ends” finished, according to Steve Gothberg, director of buildings and grounds, but is otherwise all finished.

Comments

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richardcorrente

The buildings were repaired/renovated a lot in the last ten days. What we STILL don't have are teachers under contract. Imagine a family contemplating buying a home in Warwick. The question has to come up: Will the teachers be there to teach? We MUST get a contract for the teachers. It isn't the eleventh hour. It's the START OF SCHOOL!!!

On an unrelated issue, but still important for AFTER the teacher-contract issue is settled, I spoke to Jack Kirby of Kirby Brothers sewer drain company. He guesstimates that tying into sewers for Warwick Vets would cost approximately fifteen to seventeen thousand dollars. I believe that is LESS than the brilliant School Committee spends to pump the septic system IN ONE YEAR!!!

1. School Committee - settle the teachers contract!

2. Steve Gothberg - AFTER the teacher contract is settled, call Jack Kirby or any other drain installer and get Vets hooked up to sewers...please! Save the taxpayers a fortune!

Happy Autumn everyone.

Rick Corrente

The Taxpayers Mayor

Tuesday, September 5
PaulHuff

Richard you are pandering again. Please stop.

There can't be a contract if the teachers are greedy and refuse to agree to what appears to be a fair offer from the city.

As far as you negotiating with sewer companies....I'd be more comfortable with an open competitive bidding process. Trying to negotiate with one company seems shady to me. Tell your friend to apply.

Wednesday, September 6
richardcorrente

Dear PaulHuff,

I respect you (and anyone) for using their own name rather than a fake one. (by the way, I am not pandering to you. I'm just giving credit where credit is due).

As far as your comments:

I'm not pandering. I'm just telling the truth, and the truth is that the teachers have been MUCH more willing to sit and negotiate than the School Committee. I am also not saying the teachers should be paid more, or less for that matter. I'm just saying they are going on year three without a contract. That's the injustice.I wouldn't tolerate that. Would you?

As far as "negotiating with sewer companies...I'd be more comfortable with an open competitive bidding process". Yeah. Me too. That's why I said "Call Jack Kirby OR ANY OTHER DRAIN INSTALLER". Please don't suggest that I am being "shady". I am just identifying my source of information.

In conversation with School Committee member Karen Bachus, I am now told that the sewer has been hooked up. That smart idea of hers will save tens of thousands of tax-payer dollars now that the septic system at Vets isn't being pumped out every 5 or 6 days. Credit Bachus for spear-heading that one!

Happy Autumn PaulHuff.

Happy Autumn everyone.

Rick Corrente

The Taxpayers Mayor

Wednesday, September 6
Justanidiot

deys hab a contract. wat da teachers wants is news contract. dey are bounded by the previous contract until a new one iz agreed upon. learn yer fax misterr mayer or you may not get re-erected.

Wednesday, September 6
CrickeeRaven

Hello PaulHuff:

Thank you for rightly calling out the fake "mayor" for his pandering statements. He has shown absolutely no inclination to recognize the ongoing contract dispute as anything other than an opportunity to repeatedly engage in political posturing. As you correctly point out, the teachers union rejected a contract approved by the school committee, and is awaiting the result of the arbitrators' decision, presumably because they think they'll get more generous compensation.

And don't fall for his tactic of turning the question back on you; he failed to answer your assertion, and does not deserve to demand any justification from you for his statements.

The fake "mayor" also persists in falsely referring to the calendar, as autumn officially begins Sept. 22.

He will certainly continue to embarrass himself in his future comments.

Wednesday, September 6
EthanS

Are the teachers still asking for retroactive money (aka big bonus check) for "working to rule" for the past 2 years?

Have the teachers been receiving the same pay in their paychecks for the past years for NOT attending open houses,

not attending ANY school social events leading most school to cancel them. Not offering ANY field trips to the students as in prior years. Attending school should be more than jamming facts down students throats all school year. By the way, how are

R.I test scores for the past few years. Any improvement? Will a 2-3 percent raise improve overall learning for our children?

Is starting pay of over 40K for new teachers and 85K for teachers with 10 years not enough for 180 days of work per year?

Is getting Guaranteed ( aka step raises) for 10 years not good enough?

My suggestion. Why don't we agree that the Union leadership is untruthful and greedy beyond the normal definition of greedy.

Instead of cutting the generous "step raises (over 10 percent/year in early years) as West Warwick did years ago .How about the teachers accept No "retroactive bonus check" for work not done over the past 2 years and a modest cost of living increase

( say 2 percent ) for the next 3 years?

Thursday, September 7
ThatGuyInRI

You're living up to your name justanidiot.

The teachers do not have a contract and neither side is bound to follow the old one. What you're mistakenly referring to is a "sunset clause" which in practice means that the terms of the teacher's contract continue until a new contract is signed.

BUT the RI Supreme Court has ruled against this. An expired contract is in fact expired and no longer valid. This is part of the issue between the WTU and the school dept. The WTU felt the contract should continue, but the school department and the courts feel otherwise.

Thursday, September 7