Recent problems in Warwick schools fill school committee meeting agenda

WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — Concerned parents filled the Toll Gate High School auditorium for a Warwick school committee hearing Tuesday night.

The agenda was loaded with recent problems across the school system.

Failed fire alarm systems in Norwood Elementary and Holliman Elementary were discussed.

Superintendent Philip Thornton apologized for not informing students, parents, and staff about the issue earlier. He did not explain how a month passed before the systems were publicly addressed.

“The administration took care of it with the fire department,” explained committee member David Testa. “Which I think [Thorton] followed the letter of the law there.”

Testa had a larger complaint, though, “Where it broke down is on the communication side. And that’s on the administration,” he said.

For President of the Norwood PTA Jessica Cortez, the superintendent is the main point of contention. “Speaking as a parent, I have no trust in the superintendent at this point,” she said.

Another attendee stated, “I hereby ask the school committee to request for an immediate resignation of Phil Thornton as superintendent of Warwick public schools.”

Recurring problems at Warwick Veterans Middle School were also discussed.

The committee asked the school to move fast and start getting quotes in the search for a new HVAC system. A report yesterday confirmed high (though not toxic) levels of carbon dioxide were found in several areas of the school.

Three recent sewage backups in the school prompted the committee to vote in favor of the city striving to connect the entire school, along with four other schools, to the Warwick sewer system.

Finally, the meeting updated parents that recent rain has forced the John Brown Francis Elementary School library to close due to recurring leaks.

A positive note, recent water tests showed low levels of lead.