WARWICK, RI — The Warwick School Committee voted unanimously to delay moving sixth grade classes to the district’s junior high schools until 2018, citing cost concerns during a brief special meeting Wednesday at the School Administration building at 34 Warwick Lake Ave.
The meeting lasted about four minutes, starting with School Committee Chair Bethany Furtado’s introduction of the only item on the agenda, the sixth grade move, originally scheduled to begin in September of 2017.
The move was also planned to coincide with the consolidation of elementary school buildings, which the School Committee also voted to delay until 2018 during an October 2016 meeting.
“We have listened to the constituents. We have listened to the parents and the teachers, we have listened to the team that is going forward with the implementation of the grade six middle school transition,” Furtado said.
“We all believe it is necessary and warranted, however, financial constraints would prohibit the movement in 2017-2018, and the motion that I would make is that we postpone the middle school transition to the 2018-2019 school year,” Furtado said.
Anthony Ferrucci, chief budget officer, told the audience of about 25 people that the savings realized by closing the elementary schools in 2018 will be between $1.7 million and $2 million. Making the sixth grade move in 2017 as planned will cost the district about $2 million, but, “with no off-setting cost,” from the elementary closures, Ferucci said.
During discussion, Committee Vice Chairman Eugene Nadeau attempted to speak about a recent bond issue, but was drowned out by School Committee member Karen Bachus, who spoke over him, saying, “Out of order,” once as he spoke, then again, “Out of order, meeting violation,” as he attempted to speak again.
“That’s not pertinent to this discussion,” Furtado agreed.
Nadeau switched topics, stating that though he had hoped to do the sixth grade move this coming September, he felt the Committee was now,”On the right track.”
The School Committee voted on delaying the move till 2018, with all the members voting for the delay.
After the meeting, Nadeau said he had been attempting to establish with Ferrucci if anything had changed in the last eight days since the Committee had last heard about the finances of the issue on Feb. 7. Nadeau said he spoke with Ferrucci after the meeting personally and confirmed that the situation was the same.
“That had to be the shortest meeting I’ve seen in six years,” Nadeau said.