School Configuration 2019/2020

School Configuration 2019/2020

There have been a lot of discussions about the Facility Plan and the 2019/2020 budget.  These topics are separate but they are also intertwined.  The School Committee has voted and they are moving forward with the Stage II application, so this blog post is moving forward that we will have 4 elementary schools not to debate if it is correct or not. This blog post is to provide a suggestion on how we could configure our school in the immediate years before any changes to the Facility Plan kick in. 

The most beneficial reduction for our 2019/2020 budget is operational savings.  One that we all can get behind is the closure of Curtis Corner, this could potentially save us $670,000 or more.  That is an order of magnitude more than any of the personnel reduction options.  We need to focus this budget season on how can we close Curtis Corner and still provide exceptional learning to our students.  We NEED to be sure that any decision that we make we are happy with and are not dependent on the changes that are outlined in the Facility Plan.  The Facility Plan still has to be approved by RIDE and it has to be voted upon by our community.  If we do not receive the bond we may have this school configuration for many years.

The following is my suggestion for reconfiguring our schools.  Please note that this configuration only considers enrollment forecast and capacity of schools.  The cost for movement of students is unknown to me at this time, this would have to be factored in to determine if these operational savings are worth it. It is also unknown to me if South Road will be occupied by Meadowbrook for the 2019/2020 school year.

2019/2020 School Year
2020 + Future Years
Pre-K through 5th
PES:  DLI only school (1st – 5th)
MES, WES, WKES: Pre-K through 5th
6th at South Road 6th at South Road
(BRMS when Facility Plan Approved/Completed)
7th – 8th at BRMS 7th – 8th at BRMS
(6th grade added when Facility Plan Approved/Completed)
9th – 12th at SKHS (no change) 9th – 12th at SKHS (no change)

My suggestion calls for a change as you can see to providing a DLI only school starting in the 2020/2021 school year.  There are many benefits to this, they are:

  • Allows more cross pollination of DLI kids, currently each school only has 2 cohorts at each grade.  With this change there would be 4 for each grade.
  • More cohorts at the monolingual schools, also allowing for more cross pollination.  This year West Kingstown only has 1 monolingual class for each grade and Wakefield has a split 1st and 2nd grade.  Last year Wakefield only had 1 Kindergarten class.  More cohorts would reduce these issues.
  • Reduces frequency of redistricting for the Monolingual Schools.
  • Maintains smaller community schools for Monolingual Schools (about 275 students per school)
  • Brings 5th Grade back to the Elementary School
  • 6th Grade would have their own school, allowing students from the community schools to come together and get to know one another prior to going to Middle School / Junior High. Then when Facility Plan is approved/completed they would be moved to Broad Rock to reduce the number of transitions.
  • 7th and 8th grade move to a newer school
  • Allows for Kindergarten students to get into school before going into DLI, allowing for more equitable opportunity for all students.  (If we still have the Spanish Itinerant it would allow parents the chance to see if their child enjoys learning a language.)

As you are reading this the first thing that is probably popping into your mind is busing.  I don’t see this as a problem that is not easily solved, I think we can do this by keeping the same number of buses, thus not increasing transportation spending.  It would make those children in the DLI school most likely have longer bus times and group bus stops, however that would be the tradeoff the family would make if they decide for the DLI option.  Just like the current trade off of having to provide your own transportation if not your home school.  If you look at charter schools or private schools all of those kids have longer bus rides and group bus stops.

Below is a breakdown of the enrollment projections and capacity details.  As you can see we fit in well within utilization limits.  The graphs show enrollment projected for the next 7 years (blue) compared to planned operating capacities (green). Below the graphs are tables with even more data, showing comparisons with different forecasts and different capacity values. In all cases it allows us to transition towards what is being planned for the Facilities Plan while taking Curtis Corner offline allowing for significant operational savings.

I am happy to discuss this, I am sharing for people to find holes or issues with this thought process.  I don’t want to claim to have all the answers, I am just sharing a solution I think may work for us. Thank you for reading!

Enrollment projected for the next 7 years (blue) compared to planned operating capacities (green). In all situations our students fit into the schools without any issue. 

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