Warwick school officials announce elementary school consolidation plan

WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — The city of Warwick’s major school consolidation plan went into effect just last week, and already the district is making plans to close more schools.

During a school committee meeting on Tuesday night, the School Committee announced another plan to possibly close three elementary schools in the city – John Wickes, Randall Holden & John Brown Francis.

Dozens came to the meeting at Toll Gate High School to voice their concerns about both the new proposal – and issues stemming from the middle/high school consolidation.

“I think the district is far too concerned with the public spaces, making the gyms nice and shiny and getting the auditoriums up to date, and not concerned about the conditions the students face in the classrooms,” said Darlene Netoch, president of the Warwick Teacher’s Union.

So far, the city has fielded complaints of traffic jams, unfinished construction projects and overcrowding at Warwick’s high schools.

Guy Moon, whose daughter attends Warwick Veterans Middle School, said there are several issues at the school. Vets was recently converted from a high school to a middle school to house students from Aldrich and Gorton junior high schools, which were closed.

“You have tripping hazards, you have safety issues,” he said. “You have holes in the ceiling. I mean, lockers that weren’t even attached to the walls.”

Meanwhile, the bulk of the students that would have attended Vets – had it remained a high school – are now at Pilgrim High School, where there have been complaints of traffic jams at drop off and pick up times.

School committee candidate Dean Johnson said he lives nearby and sees the problems every day.

“Nothing but traffic,” he said. “It was 15 minutes from Benny’s to Pilgrim – it was absolutely ridiculous.”

Fellow school committee candidate Nathan Cornell is just 18 years old and said he still has friends in high school.

“At the first day, I called them and say, ‘how was school for you,'” he said. “And they told me it was crowded, especially the lunchrooms.”

Eyewitness News reached out to several school committee members as well as the city’s superintendent and mayor for a comment – but all declined to comment on camera.

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