EAST PROVIDENCE — Proposed cost-saving measures in the East Providence School Department precipitated by the Budget Commission and the State Department of Education have been updated in a more concise manner, according to new School Committee Chairman Joel Monteiro.
Mr. Monteiro said the proposals developed by Interim School Superintendent Dr. John DeGoes were recently streamlined to reflect additional input and discussion on the topic. The initial proposals were published in the Jan. 3 print edition of The East Providence Post as well as here online.
“It would really be helpful going forward for the school department and the city as a whole for all of the information to get out in its entirety,” Mr. Monteiro said.
“The four options Dr. DeGoes presented initially were, I guess you would say, dated,” he continued. “They were in the infancy stages of the process. I know a lot of people, parents, are fired up about some things, but those options have been taken off the table. There were definitely details lost in communication.”
Of note in regards to the new, refined options, according to Mr. Monteiro, no changes will be made at the middle school level, meaning fifth graders will remain in elementary schools.
One of the earlier proposals included the addition of fifth-grade students to Martin and Riverside Middle Schools. Another separate option proposed had all fifth and sixth graders moved to Riverside while seventh and eighth graders would attend Martin.
“Middle schools will not be touched. There is no recommendation to add fifth grade to the middle schools or to split the middle schools between fifth and sixth and seventh and eighth,” Mr. Monteiro said. “There is some academic value to the fifth-sixth, seventh-eighth proposal, but logistically and budget-wise it’s not realistic and it makes no sense to do that at this point.”
While Mr. Monteiro did not want to discuss further specifics, he did acknowledge some sort of consolidation will eventually take place in the system at the elementary school level, which likely means a building among Oldham, Whiteknact or Hennessey will be closed.
Of the new proposals, Mr. Monteiro said, “It’s a combination of those options, but nothing exactly like one of the original four Dr. DeGoes proposed. But it’s important to remember these are just recommendations. Nothing has been decided.”
Mr. Monteiro said while he was concerned about possible misinformation being spread, he was pleased at the level of concern expressed by parents and residents on the matter.
“Everyone is on edge, including myself. I understand this. I have kids in the school system. My son is in fourth grade, so it’s not like these changes don’t affect my family,” Mr. Monteiro said.
“I’m glad people are present and engaged and involved, which they should be,” he concluded. “But I’m hoping people will be patient and listen to all of the recommendations so we can break down the information and then make a wise, long-term decision that’s best for the school department and the city.”