WPS School Consolidation News
A financially responsible plan to keep high-quality education in Warwick
District enrollment has declined substantially in recent years and is expected to continue to drop. The district’s planning consultant, Symmes Maini & McKee Associates of Cambridge (SMMA), found that in the schools open as of 2015 the district had 34% more space than it needed considering its enrollment. There was also 47% excess space at the junior high school level and 37% in the high schools. After extensive study and a series of public workshops and meetings, the Warwick School District began implementing a two-phase school consolidation plan beginning September 2016. The decision was approved by the Warwick School Committee as part of efforts to best balance education for all students in the district and also be financially prudent.
In Phase I of the plan, Aldrich and Gorton Junior High Schools were closed as school buildings, and Veterans High School was converted into a junior high school. Winman remains a junior high school as before. Gorton has been converted into an Administration building, housing all of the district’s administrative staff who were previously working in three different locations. The former Aldrich building was sold back to the City of Warwick.
Phase II of the Secondary Consolidation will see the 2018-2019 school year Veterans Junior High School and Winman Junior High becoming middle schools, with rising sixth graders moving from their respective elementary schools into these two buildings. This will align Warwick with the rest of the districts in RI, excluding only New Shoreham on Block Island, who all offer the middle school model to their communities.
A multi-phased approach to consolidation
As part of Phase II of the consolidation process, the School Committee has approved a plan to close or repurpose four elementary school buildings beginning in the 2018-2019 school year. After a lengthy evaluation period, it was determined that Holden and Wickes elementary schools will be closed, and John Brown Francis Elementary and the Warwick Early Childhood Center at Drum Rock would undergo repurposing. During the summer of 2018, Drum Rock’s students and staff will relocate to the current John Brown Francis building and their entire program will take on a new name: the Warwick Early Learning Center at John Brown Francis. The existing Drum Rock building is slated to be converted into an annex of the Warwick Area Career and Technical Center, providing those students and faculty with an exciting opportunity to expand their programs and pathways into new spaces.
A fiscally prudent future
The consolidation plan, once both phases are complete, will enable the district to operate more within its financial means while at the same time providing high-quality educational opportunities for all students.
An Elementary consolidation transition committee is meeting regularly to plan and discuss all aspects of the Phase II consolidation. The discussions include topics such as staffing, transportation, moving logistics, student transition, materials, furniture, space renovation, and of course communication (hence this website!).
Additionally for Phase II the Grade 6 Assimilation committee has been meeting to discuss the transition of current 5th graders into grade 6 at the middle schools in 2018-19. Their topics of discussion include program offerings, class scheduling, student orientation, staffing, transportation, space reconfiguration, furniture,
Sub-committees are working in ten specific areas: logistics, staffing, technology, curriculum, transportation, public relations, scheduling, facilities, legal, and middle school transition. School administrators, as well as parents and teachers, are involved in the transition committee work that is expected to last for all of this school year.
Consolidation updates will be given through the year as part of PTO/PTA meetings, principals’ newsletters, the district website, and public forums.
Elementary Consolidation Committee
Lynn Dambruch – Director of Elementary Education (Chair)
Philip Thornton – Superintendent of Schools
Anthony Ferrucci – Chief Budget Officer
Jennifer Connolly – Director of Special Services
Wendy Amelotte – Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment
Douglas Alexander – Director of Technology
Steven Gothberg – Director of Maintenance
Denise Bilodeau – Technology Applications Coordinator
Kevin Oliver – Maintenance
Mary Townsend – President of WISE Union and Teacher Assistant
Joseph Coffey – Principal, Holliman Elementary
Ryan Mullen – Coordinator of Teaching and Learning
Stephen O’Haire – Transportation Manager
Virginia Bolano – Principal, Scott Elementary
Gary McCoombs – Principal, Hoxsie Elementary
Ronald Celio – Principal, E.T. Wyman Elementary
Mindy Mertz – Coordinator of the Early Childhood Center