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Cowart Withdraws Coventry Schools Restructure Plan

[CREDIT: Rob Borkowski] Supt. Don Cowart withdrew his Coventry Schools Restructure Plan Feb. 8. The decision was met with loud applause and several grateful comments.

COVENTRY, RI — Tonight Superintendent Don Cowart withdrew his Coventry Schools restructure plan, reflecting on the public outcry and opposition to the plan.

While he intended the plan as his best effort to provide the Coventry School Committee options in dealing with impending deficits and future fiscal challenges, “We also must consider public feedback,” Cowart said.

Therefore, he said he would withdraw the plan and ask the Committee to not vote on it as planned. The statement was met with enthusiastic applause from the crowd.

“I want to say thank you for taking the time to listen,” said Kenneth Spiro, noting his past harsh criticism of Cowart’s credibility, calling the decision to withdraw the plan, “A good first step to rebuilding that credibility with the town.”

School Committee President James Pierson thanked several people who complimented Cowart on the decision to withdraw the plan, asking for their continued support, “When the Town Council is putting its budget together and they decide to not fulfill their obligations,” to the school department, he said.

The Coventry Schools Restructure Plan would have converted Blackrock School to an early learning center, creating two sister-school pairs: Washington Oak (K-3) / Western Coventry (4-5) and Tiogue (K-12) /Hopkins Hill (3-5). The middle school and high school remain as-is. This approach would eliminate 10-15 elementary teaching positions, saving the district $2.1 million with pending retirements, “allowing the district to maintain intervention and support services for students,”  according to Cowart’s Jan. 19 message to the community.

Now, the ‘status quo’ plan will rely on enrollment data for staffing cuts, likelyeliminating four elementary teaching positions and two interventionist positions, saving the district $1.04 million with pending retirements, according to Cowart’s assessments.
Rob Borkowski
Author: Rob Borkowski

Rob has worked as reporter and editor for several publications, including The Kent County Daily Times and Coventry Courier, before working for Gatehouse in MA then moving home with Patch Media. Now he's publisher and editor of Contact him at [email protected] with tips, press releases, advertising inquiries, and concerns.

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