Warwick committee considering two school consolidation plans

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WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — The Warwick School Committee says it still wants to close some schools because attendance numbers are down across the city.

The committee is focusing on two plans — both which involve closing Gorton and Aldrich Junior High Schools.

A recent report by a consulting firm studying the proposed plans said 40-percent of classroom space is vacant throughout the city schools.

“It was something like 47%,” said Edward Frenette of Symmes Maini & McKee Associates. “This is something that has been brewing for an awful long time. And it’s something that touches a lot of residents.”

Warwick residents and parents have mixed emotions about the proposal — saying the schools are dynamic parts of their neighborhoods.

“As far as consolidation, there are pros and cons and you have to weigh both sides, but it’s just a shame to close a neighborhood school down,” said Lorraine Maloney, who frequently rides her bike near Gorton.

The committee’s first plan would close both Aldrich and Gorton. The plan says those students would be transfered to Warwick Veterans Memorial High School — which will be converted to a middle school. Officials say the displaced students would be dispersed between Pilgrim and Toll Gate High Schools — a plan costing $6.5 million annually.

The second plan would keep all three high schools open, but would still close Aldrich and Gorton. City officials say the displaced students would move to a facility adjacent to either Pilgrim or Vets — a plan that would cost 13 or 14 million dollars.

“Even though you hate to see a school close and people have to move to a different area to bring their kids to school, sometimes it just has to be,” said Carole Mosher, who lives across from Aldrich.

Some parents say they don’t want to see their kids’ schools close. “The building is beautiful, it houses a lot of children, and they get a really good education here. So I find it to be very sad,” said Lorrie Brown, parent of a Gorton student.

Superintendent Richard D’Agostino said that if the junior high schools close, the city will likely either keep the buildings for office space or sell them.

He said he expects the school committee to make a decision on the issue sometime in June.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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