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School Committee OKs Arbitrator’s Agreement, Bachus, Nadeau to Study Sixth Grade Consolidation

[CREDIT: Rob Borkowski] The Warwick School Committee meets Tuesday nights at 7 p.m. at Toll Gate High School.
[CREDIT: Rob Borkowski] The Warwick School Committee meets Tuesday nights at 7 p.m. at Toll Gate High School.
WARWICK, RI — The Warwick School Committee unanimously approved the agreement reached Oct. 16 at City Hall between members of the Warwick School Committee and Warwick Teacher’s Union during their Nov. 15 meeting in the Toll Gate High School auditorium.

“Believe it or not, for the first time in a long time, it was unanimous,” said School Committee member Karen Bachus. Bachus was not able to disclose details of the agreement, but said she expected the Warwick Teachers Union to vote on it early next week.

Contract mediator attorney Vincent Ragosta reported the development the  morning after the Oct. 16 mediation session.  The mediator reported an amicable process that focused more on educational issues than the money at stake, he said.

The agreement will focus on two labor contracts, he said at the time, one covering 2015 – 2016 and 2016-2017, then a second covering 2017-2018, 2018-2019, and 2019-2020.

In other news, School Committee member Eugene Nadeau made a motion to delay the next step of school consolidation, with School Committee members Karen Bachus and David Testa seconding the motion, which Testa noted he’d done for purposes of discussion.

The motion died without further support, but Bachus and Nadeau agreed to study the question, and return with a well-researched argument.

The current plan will close John Wickes, Randall Holden and John Brown Francis Elementary Schools, converting the latter into an early childhood center. The last is the part that most worried Bachus, the lone dissenting voter on the School Committee, when the plan was approved in 2016.

That plan, she said, would have split the sixth grade evenly between Warwick Veterans Jr. High School and Winman Jr. High, but Warwick Veterans will get the bulk of the students, since it can accommodate more students than Winman. Complications with the previous portions of the consolidation plan, as well as the vociferous objection of the John Brown Francis School community, organized under the group Operation Falcon, have caused Nadeau and Bachus to take a second look at the plan, Bachus said.

After she and Nadeau pledged to study the possible delay of  sixth grade consolidation, Bachus said, Superintendent Phil Thornton noted a delay would not be feasible. Bachus said she was not satisfied with that attitude.

“If we tell you this is what’s going to happen, you have to find a way,” Bachus said.

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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