Proposed East Providence school changes spark debate

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As has become all too customary in the city the last several years, potential changes in the School Department have sparked a heated debate over the last week with details of proposed building closings and consolidations having been leaked to the news media and the public at large.
Parents of the affected students and areas didn’t respond positively to the proposals, which could see hundreds of children switching buildings and having their routines interrupted.
Interim School Superintendent Dr. John DeGoes was handed the unenviable task of devising a plan to close and/or consolidate the buildings. To his credit, he is trying to make the most of a very difficult situation.
Almost from the first day it took charge, the East Providence Budget Commission has sought to streamline all aspects of city government, including its public schools.
And just about from the very beginning, the Oldham Elementary School has been targeted for closure. According to the Commission and with input from the Rhode Island Department of Education, the numbers, both financial and in terms of population, simply don’t support having two elementary schools in the Riverside section of the city anymore. It’s also one of the oldest buildings in the district, and in the Commission’s view one of, if not the most expensive to maintain.
Those facts may well be true and correct, but it does nothing to lessen the impact or the sting of change felt by the parents, students and teachers of those schools eventually shuttered.
It’s a cold, harsh financial reality of East Providence in 2013 and beyond. We simply don’t have enough money on hand to keep the status quo.
In light of this issue and others, there’s another conversation that needs to take place because it’s likely only one way for the city to maintain what it has and improve upon what needs to be fixed, and that’s to raise taxes. It’s for another time, but talk about a heated debate.

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