In Search of Unity

In her comments to open the May 8th school committee meeting, Emily Cummiskey decried the division that has developed in town and called for unity. While we whole-heartedly support this call, unfortunately, Ms. Cummiskey misdiagnosed the cause of the division. She and several community members from the Friends of Wakefield/Friends of SK/WhyWakefield who spoke seem to believe that the facility decision is what is at the root of the division in our community.

While there is clearly disagreement over the elementary configuration, that is but a symptom of a larger problem. Many of the decisions made by the current school committee have failed a basic test: “Is this in the best interests of the students of South Kingstown?” The firing of legal counsel Sara Rapport, the rushed PAT decision, the still mysterious investigation of superintendent Stringfellow, and yes, the decision to change the facility plan all fail this basic test. While each of these decisions betrays a focus on the children, we believe the facility decision is the most potentially damaging to our students’ education and thus has become the focus of community discussion.

Those of us who argue for the closure of an elementary school do so because we value the education of EVERY SK STUDENT. While the decision to maintain a 4th school has financial implications, it is the effect on the education of all district students that most concerns us. We see a decision to spend $30+ million in lost operational savings over the next 25 years on a building we don’t need, to be paid for by program cuts and educational opportunities lost for all SK students.

The current budget process is highlighting these costs. Teacher layoffs and program scale-backs equivalent to the lost savings we could realize by an expedited elementary closure are being felt across the district. As three former contingency committee members discussed in an open letter last week, the district absolutely could have expedited school closures and, given the incoming kindergarten class size, it would be the prudent decision. It would have saved north of $800k in next year’s budget.

From an educational standpoint, We see the decision to maintain 4 schools as a counterproductive one with no pedagogical basis. Students at all 4 schools will begin to feel the negative effects of this decision starting next year when the district maintains split grade sections at 3 of the 4 schools, and single section grades of monolingual students at at least 2 schools. Neither of these configurations are in the best interests of our children. Combined with the spreading of fewer resources across more schools, these configurations will negatively impact the education of students at every school in the district, and most severely at our smallest elementary schools.

If the school committee majority truly wish to bring unity to the community, we applaud them. But the only way to achieve that goal is to start making decisions in the best interests of the children of our whole district, not just a select few. The decision to maintain an unneeded elementary school building is only but one example where the school committee’s decision failed that test. The decision to change the PAT process and fire the district’s long term legal counsel are other examples. The investigation of Superintendent Stringfellow is especially concerning as it is nearly impossible to explain in relation to a focus on our students.

The search for a new superintendent is an opportunity to right this ship. We hope the committee will hear the calls for unity from the community and keep the interests of all children in mind as they make this important decision. If they do, then community unity is surely possible.


Barry Alofsin
Rick Angeli
Trish Angeli
John Babbitt
Kathie Babbitt
Meredith Barber
Cheryl Barbera
Kristen Benjamin
Roland Benjamin
CJ Bergner
Deb Bergner
Paula Bradley
Eugene Bucci
Wendy Bucci
Kate Bucci
Christine Byrne
James Byrne
Linda Campanini-Sweet
Gary Chapman
Monique Chartier
Ann Cibelli
Rachel Clough
Jeff Coons
Dave Coppola
Kerri Costa
Dave Cote
Maureen Cotter
Brian Cromack
Melissa Cromack
Matt Crook
Al Crudale
Barbara Crudale
Jean Curzake
Adrienne Daly
Josh Daly
Jeff Davis
Matthew Delmonico
Sara Delmonico
Paul Donnelly
Karyn Dukworth
Cathy Dwyer
Jamie Dwyer
Brendan Fogarty
Tom Ford
Linda Ford
Jeffery Foye
Laura Frye
Thomas Frye
Kellie Gaunya
Michael Gaunya
John Gennari
Kathy Gennari
Julie Glen
Meg Grenier
Charles Hall
Cadence Hansen
Jesse Hansen
Lynn Harper
Leea Hauser
Lisa Herbert
Emily Iredale
Kevin Jackson
Carol Jurczak
Rick Jurczak
Sara Ladas
David Laudati
Lee Laudati
Joslin Leasca
Sarah Lobdell
Ray Lyons
Brian Macinanti
Denise Marsh
Julie Marzilli
Julie Marzilli
Belinda Matson
Amy McGillivray
Michael McNamara
Andrew McNulty
Donna McNulty
Sally Minetti
Jennifer Mitchell
David Mosher
Raissa Mosher
Nicole Mulanaphy
Roberta Mulholland
Lee Nadeau
Mark Nadeau
Michael Nahmias
Pam Nahmias
Carla O’Donnell
Sean O’Donnell
Kevin O’Neill
Nicole Paliotti
Alex Petrucci
Dave Pezzullo
Jason Ralph
Joseph Reppucci
Melanie Reppucci, DPT
Nicole Riley
Joelle Rollo-Koster
John Rossi
Suzanne Rossi
Kristen Samponoro
Dudly Samponoro
Kathleen Schafer
Rebecca Schmid
Ross Schold
Tara Schold
Dee Shea
Dan Shea
Susan Smith
Scott Smith
Scott Smith
Linda Soderberg
Skye Soderberg
Sven Soderberg
Martha Stamp
Peter Stelljes
Mary Stiller
Kevin Sullivan
Greg Sweet
Judith Taft
Kitty Tally
PJ Tally
Paul Tasich
Cherie Taylor
Peter Taylor
April Tessier
Ann Tomlinson
Robert Tomlinson
Jessica Vescera
Bruce Waidler
Susan Waidler
Bryce White
Kristen White
Dawn Zyons

10 thoughts on “In Search of Unity

Add yours

  1. I have a child in the SK School system, and I whole heartedly agree with the sentiments expressed in this letter. I went to a School Committee meeting earlier this year and was struck by the fact that every decision that the Committee made was the most expensive decision that they could make. There didn’t seem to be any effort to consider the cost effectiveness of the decisions being made. The more money we spend paying for facilities that we don’t need, the less money there is available to directly benefits our children.


  2. I agree with this letter. The concern must be with our children receiving an excellent education. Leadership on our school committee must focus on this and stop unnecessary spending. Cut the waste, fraud and abuse.


  3. It’s important for SK residence to know what is going on SK Spotlight is a great place to get solid information


  4. I wholeheartedly agree. Our so-called leaders seem to be more interested in serving themselves, for some strange reason, rather than serving the greater good. Why might that be? It’s relatively new to the world of someone my age and quite confusing…in fact, it’s completely anti-American. Unity begins at home…in other words, it’s best when the party that calls for it actually starts it. Then, wonderful things happen. This separation and unweaving of our civil society was oddly started by the very folks who used to preach tolerance. Now, they preach separation and discord. It’s a shame and it’s happening fast. Let’s all come together and fight the good fight together…make the correct decisions on logical issues and for God’s sake, do what’s best for the majority of the citizens and taxpayers!


  5. As a former SK School Committee Member, my concern is the management of taxpayer dollars to best educate our South Kingstown children. According to the following link the nationwide average per pupil cost in 2016 was $11,762 and the South Kingstown per pupil cost is now well over $20,000 in 2018 and headed higher:

    Locally, the Prout High School website lists the per pupil cost for 2019-2020 at $14,975. Even with the increasing SK per pupil cost (one of the highest in the country), students are leaving the district for academic alternatives (why?). The elected School Committee must be accountable in managing the generous taxpayer dollars to provide the best academic environment for our children with measured and quantifiable results.


  6. Excellent letter. I totally agree.The this division in south Kingstown stems from poor decisions on the part of the school committee. We need to provide for every student not a select few. Small schools are wonderful but not at the cost of cutting programs. Close 2 schools and provide a good education to all students. With the amount of money we spend we should be excellent.


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