School officials narrow down consolidation plans

warwick public schools_173064

WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI)- The Warwick School Committee unveiled several consolidation proposals Wednesday night, eventually narrowing the five choices down to two.

One plan would consolidate schools by creating two middle schools in the district: Veterans, which is currently a high school, and Winman. This would leave two high schools in the city, Pilgrim and Tollgate.

The other plan would create three two-school campuses. Both plans would close Aldrich and Gorton Junior High Schools. School committee members cited cost savings and educational enrichment as the leading factors in making a decision.

Several parents agreed with the two options at Wednesday’s public workshop. “It allows us to better utilize our buildings, close our oldest assets, and then pour more money into our programs for the students,” said parent David Testa.

Other parents say they want to make sure the city and the school district are on the same page when it comes to finalizing a plan. “I want what’s best academically and what services are going to be provided. But my concern is we can agree upon a model that we all really like, but if the city doesn’t come together with the school department, all this is for not. So I think that is a critical piece that needs to happen first,” said parent Celeste Mullane.

Warwick School Committee Chair Jennifer Ahern says she will attend the city council’s budget meeting on Thursday to request an additional $7 million just to keep the current schools open.

“So even if we were to reduce our schools for next year, we would still be looking at additional funding that we would need to see even with our current budget because the cost for one facility to close would not recapture the amount we are asking for,” said Ahern.

The school committee’s next workshop meeting is scheduled for June 8 at Toll Gate High School.

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